The sciatic nerve is one of the longest nerves in your body and it runs from the buttocks to your knee before branching out into smaller nerves extending to the feet and toes. Injury can cause irritation, inflammation, and sciatic nerve pinching, causing sciatica. Although self-care treatments can resolve sciatica Washington, PA symptoms like lower back pain radiating down the leg, seeking professional medical intervention can prevent your risk of severe complications associated with untreated sciatica.
How do sciatic patients describe sciatica pain?
Recognizing your sciatica pain will lead to an early diagnosis. Early diagnosis is significant in treating and managing sciatica because it prevents the condition from progressing into severe stages that cause structural and functional complications.
There is no standard description of sciatica pain. The pain you will experience will depend on the root cause of your sciatica. Patients typically describe sciatica pain as sharp and shooting. Your sciatica may be acute or chronic. The former describes sciatica pain that comes and goes, while the latter is continuous pain. Patients with sciatica experience worsening symptoms upon sitting or standing for long. Forced or sudden body movements due to coughing or sneezing can also trigger sciatic pain.
Does sciatica affect one leg?
Patients with sciatica experience symptoms on one leg at a time. However, the condition can affect and present symptoms in both legs. Your experience with sciatica will depend on the cause of your condition and the location of nerve pinching on the spinal cord.
What causes sciatica?
There are multiple causes of sciatica. Your doctor will comprehensively review your lifestyle, medical, and family history to accurately diagnose your sciatica’s cause. The following are the most popular causes of sciatica:
- A herniated or slipped disk
- Degenerative disk disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Piriformis syndrome
- Traumatic injury to the sciatic nerve
- Tumors in the lumbar spinal canal
What risk factors dispose patients to sciatica?
Although there are multiple causes of sciatica, various risk factors increase your chances of developing the condition. The main risk factors for sciatica include:
- Injury: Patients with previous injuries to the lower back are more susceptible to a sciatica diagnosis.
- Aging: Older patients experience the natural wearing down of spinal bone tissue and disks, which enhances the risk of injury-causing sciatica.
- Obesity: Overweight patients put a lot of pressure on the spine causing back strains and other complications like sciatica.
- Heavy lifting: An active physical job that requires heavy lifting increases your risk of back complications due to the increased strain on spinal tissues.
- Underlying health conditions: Patients with underlying chronic diseases like osteoarthritis and diabetes are at risk of nerve damage.
- Smoking: Active smokers damage their spinal tissues due to increased nicotine consumption.
An accurate diagnosis will address underlying issues causing your sciatica and influence achieving desired treatment outcomes. Regular annual checkups are critical to determine any predispositions to sciatic nerve damage and ensure preventative care to eliminate your risk of complications. Contact Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center to determine the cause of the sharp pain extending to your legs and begin treatment to restore your wellness.