The Indicative Symptoms of Sciatica You Should Look Out For

Woman experiencing pain in thigh

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  • Prolonged sciatica can hamper important biological functions, such as your ability to control your bowels and urination
  • If you suddenly experience lower back pain that starts from your buttock and runs down to your leg and foot, you most likely have sciatica. Visiting a doctor is highly recommended to help diagnose your condition accurately

When your sciatic nerve becomes pinched due to various causes, it can result in a condition called sciatica. Its most telltale symptom is pain that typically starts from the lower back (or sometimes the buttock) and radiates downward to one thigh. Certain activities that pinch your nerve, such as sitting, can aggravate the pain further.1

Depending on the irritation experienced by the nerve, the pain may even extend all the way down to your foot, and can range from mild to severe.2 In rare cases, you may also experience problems controlling your bowels and urination, indicating a serious problem in your sciatic nerve.3

Aside from lower back and leg pain, you need to be aware that certain causes of sciatica develop unique symptoms as well. For example, spinal stenosis and herniated discs not only cause leg pain, but they also cause foot drop, a situation wherein your foot slaps onto the ground while walking due to muscle weakness.4 Due to the myriad of problems that you may experience, lower back symptoms should be checked by your doctor right away.

How Sciatica Is Diagnosed

If you suddenly experience lower back pain that starts from your buttock and runs down to your leg and foot, you most likely have sciatica. Visiting a doctor is highly recommended to help diagnose your condition accurately.

During your consultation, initial tests include simple physical maneuvers, such as walking on your toes, lifting your legs one at a time and rising from a squatting position. Any pain that arises from these activities usually indicates sciatica. To help your doctor confirm the findings further, certain imaging tests will need to be performed. These include:5

X-ray: This test will help your doctor check if there are any bony overgrowths in your spine, or any herniated discs that may be affecting your sciatic nerve.

Magnetic resonance imaging: An MRI will create cross-sectional images of your lower back to show not just the current status of your spine, but the surrounding tissue as well. This will help determine if the source of the pain is coming from the bones or not.

Computerized topography: Also known as a CT scan, this procedure begins with injecting your spinal canal with a contrasting dye before taking X-ray images. This helps create more accurate results of your spinal cord and the surrounding nerves because they appear brighter than everything else in the images.

Electromyography: The goal of this procedure is to test the responsiveness of your nervous system. This can help pinpoint any issues in your spinal cord if unsatisfactory results are produced.

What to Do When You Develop Symptoms of Sciatica

If you develop mild sciatica, it’s possible that the symptoms can disappear within a week. However, if the symptoms persist and gradually worsen, call your doctor immediately. Prolonged sciatica can hamper important biological functions, such as your ability to control your bowels and urination.6

MORE ABOUT SCIATICA

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What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatica Causes

Sciatica Treatment

Sciatica Pain Relief

Sciatica Exercises

Sciatica Surgery

Sciatica Prevention

Sciatica During Pregnancy

Sciatica Diet

Sciatica FAQ

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