What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common type of pain that affects your sciatic nerve, which extends from your lower back through your hips and butt down the back of each leg.

Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in your butt or leg that worsens when you sit
  • Hip pain
  • Burning or tingling down your leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of your butt
  • A shooting pain down your leg that makes it difficult to stand up

Sciatica usually affects only one side of your lower body. Often, the pain extends from your lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through one of your legs. Depending on where your sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to your foot or toes.

For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and make it hard for them to do things they usually do. For others, it might not last long, but it bothers them and it has the potential to get worse.

What Causes It?

Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve is pinched, usually from a herniated disk or bone spur. Other common causes of sciatica include:

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back)
  • Degenerative disk disease (breakdown of disks, which act as cushions between your vertebrae)
  • Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one)
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscle spasm in your back or buttocks

Other things that can make your back pain worsen include being overweight, not exercising regularly, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

When to Call the Doctor

Your sciatica may go away on its own, but if your pain is severe or doesn’t go away, you may want to see your doctor. Sciatica can be treated with physical therapy, medication, and surgery.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness in your lower extremities
  • Numbness in your leg
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Severe pain in your lower back or leg
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on March 14, 2019

Sources

SOURCE: 

Cleveland Clinic.

Mayo Clinic: “Sciatica.”

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