Recognizing Sciatica Symptoms

Recognizing Sciatica Symptoms

If you have ever suffered sciatica symptoms, you also know how painful it can be. What you may not be aware of is the fact that sciatica is not really a diagnosis in and of itself. The term sciatica simply refers to a group of symptoms that cause pain in the lower back, leg and sometimes foot that arises from compression or irritation of one of the five spinal nerves that gives rise to each sciatic nerve. Here are some of the most common sciatica symptoms.


The most common symptom of sciatica is of course pain and this pain can be felt at any point along the nerve pathway. The severity of the pain will vary from case to case from a mild ache to severe burning pain in the lower back and down your leg. Some people describe it as feeling like a jolt of electricity. You may experience any of the following pain symptoms:

• Buttock pain

• Leg pain

• Muscle weakness

• Lower back discomfort

• Calf pain


Muscle weakness or numbness is also a common sign of sciatica compression or irritation. In fact, it is not uncommon to have numbness in one part of your leg and pain in another. This is due in large part to the location of the compression or irritation. Tingling often accompanies this pain or numbness, your lower leg and feet may feel like they are asleep.

Bladder or Bowel Control Issues

In serious situations, you may experience bladder or bowel control issues. If you experience this sciatica symptom, you should seek medical attention immediately. This can happen if you are suffering from Cauda equine syndrome. This is actually a neurological problem where there is an acute loss of function of the lumbar plexus. Cauda equina syndrome is generally addressed surgically and the prognosis is good if it is addressed soon after symptoms present.

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Medical Attention

In most cases, a mild case of sciatica will resolve itself without intervention; however, there are times when medical attention is required. If your pain and symptoms last longer than a week or your attempts to alleviate pain fail you should seek medical attention. This is also true if your symptoms flare suddenly or are especially severe in nature.


As you can see, sciatica symptoms vary in intensity, which will affect potential treatment options. In cases that are mild to moderate, it may be possible to rely on over the counter medications and rest, but when the symptoms are severe prescription medications or even surgery may be required. The cause of your symptoms will play a role in determining treatment as well, if your sciatica pain is the direct result of a tumor or trauma surgery may be required however if the problem is strain rest may be all you need.

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