Do you have pain, tingling or numbness in your leg? Where does the discomfort start? If it begins in your lower back and then moves down through the buttock to affect the back of your leg or your whole leg you might have sciatica.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is not a diagnosis in itself. It simply describes the leg pain caused by some other health condition. For instance, a herniated lumbar disc, degeneration of a spinal disc, a narrowing of the spaces within your spine (spinal stenosis) or a slipping of vertebra (spondylolysis). Any one of these things has the potential to send pain travelling down the large sciatic nerve situated behind a leg.
What does sciatic nerve pain feel like?
Individuals with sciatica pain describe it in several different ways. Most often they complain of a tingling, burning or searing pain that concentrates in only one buttock or leg and travels downwards, sometimes as far as the toes. Discomfort can be infrequent and mildly irritating or constant and agonising. Exactly how sciatica presents depends on the underlying problem.
How worried should I be?
If you think you might have sciatica there is no need to panic. Whilst sciatica can be uncomfortable it rarely results in permanent nerve damage. Doctors are able to recommend a range of interventions to help improve and manage the condition, including medication and living aids. With the right help sciatica nerve pain almost always improves over time.
Understanding the sciatic nerve
The sciatic nerve is the body’s largest single nerve. It is rooted in a series of smaller nerves that each spread outward from the lower lumbar region of the back before coming together to form the large sciatic nerve. If the sciatic nerve is compressed or affected in some other way near to the region its root nerves exit from the spine it can cause pain.
Visit your doctor if you suspect sciatica. Once you have a diagnosis, make sure you understand your condition. Once you understand what you are dealing with you can begin to explore everyday ways to manage and calm the pain from your sciatic nerve such as body supports and specially designed cushions.