The symptoms of sciatica are typically hard to overlook. The pain originates from your sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the human body. When this nerve becomes pinched or inflamed, it can cause many different types of pain.
Aching, burning, and even feelings of electric shock running down one or both legs can affect your ability to walk, sit, and rest comfortably. With the help of a specialist, you can find the root cause of this pain and begin working towards a solution.
At Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, our team can accurately diagnose sciatica and create a treatment plan for the underlying cause of your pain.
5 signs of sciatica
Sciatica refers to pain from the sciatic nerve, but not everyone experiences the exact same kind of pain. One person might experience a mild, radiating ache, while another person might experience a sharp, shooting pain that keeps them from moving.
Many people experience multiple symptoms, including:
- Pain that begins in your lower back or buttocks, possibly radiating down the leg
- Pain that gets worse when you move or sit down
- Pins and needles or painful tingling in your legs and feet
- Numbness and weakness in the legs and feet
- Lopsided pain that only occurs on one side of the body
Sciatica typically only affects one side, though bilateral sciatica can occur. If you’re experiencing sciatica in both legs, it might be a sign that something more serious is wrong.
Common causes of sciatica
When discussing sciatica, it’s important to remember that it’s not a condition, but a symptom of an underlying problem. The sciatic nerve is being pinched or inflamed, which is causing the pain. Once you’re able to diagnose what is affecting the nerve, the issue can be treated properly.
Common causes of sciatica include:
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disk disease
- Bone spurs on the spine
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Vertebral instability
Certain factors can put you at risk for sciatica, including obesity, age, diabetes, and prolonged sitting. In order to diagnose the cause of your sciatica, we will ask questions and perform an examination, and may run tests to see what’s irritating your sciatic nerve.
When to visit a specialist
Sciatica is usually temporary, and the underlying cause might resolve itself. However, if your sciatica continues for over a week, becomes severe, or begins to seriously affect your mobility, a visit to a specialist might be necessary.
You should seek immediate medical attention if:
- You suddenly experience excruciating pain, numbness, and weakness
- Your sciatica occurs after a severe injury or accident
- You are unable to control your bladder or bowels
To learn more about sciatica and discuss treatment options, book an appointment online or over the phone with Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center. We have offices in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, Pennsylvania.