The prevalence of back pain in the United States is nothing short of staggering. In fact, 65 million people report a recent episode of back pain. Driving these numbers is a host of issues, and you can be sure that sciatica figures prominently in the mix, since 10-40% of Americans report it during their lifetime.
To help you narrow down the suspects behind your back pain, Dr. Sachida Manocha and the team here at Interventional Pain Center outline three of the more common hallmarks of sciatica.
The basics of the sciatic nerve
The best way to understand how sciatica can affect you is to understand the anatomy of this large nerve. Not only is your sciatic nerve a large nerve, it’s the largest in your body — about the width of your thumb at its widest point.
You have two sciatic nerves, and they start on both sides of your lower back. They then travel down each side of your buttocks, down into each leg, and into both feet.
Characteristics of sciatica
The reason we started with a small anatomy refresher is that it helps explain the unique characteristics of sciatica. This condition is usually caused by a herniated disc that compresses one of your sciatic nerves. However, it can also stem from a narrowing in your spinal canal or from other degenerative changes in your lumbar spine that compress this large nerve.
No matter what’s pressing on your sciatic nerve, you may feel a variety of symptoms, such as the following:
1. Pain in your lower back
One of the first symptoms to get your attention is pain in your lower back. This pain can be a dull ache, but it’s more commonly felt in certain positions or actions, such as when you bend over or sneeze. The pain that flares up under these conditions is often described as shooting pain, burning pain, or both.
2. Pain that travels down one side
As we described, you have two sciatic nerves, and they travel down the backside of each buttock and leg. So, if you suffer from sciatica pain, it’s usually on one side of the body, because something is pressing on one of the nerves, not both. Furthermore, the pain can be felt along the length of the nerve and flare up due to certain movement and actions.
3. Numbness and tingling
Besides pain, people with sciatica often feel other symptoms, namely numbness and tingling. Like the pain, these symptoms usually only affect the side of the body where the affected nerve is located.
Diagnosing and treating sciatica
If these symptoms sound familiar, the best thing to do is come to the office to get evaluated. As specialists in back pain, we can quickly identify the cause of your back pain and get you on the road to relief as quickly as possible.
To get started, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with the Interventional Pain Center today. We have offices in Worthington and Newark, Ohio.