Burning sciatica is a frightening symptomatic description offered by some patients who suffer with unrelenting fiery back and leg pain. Sciatica which is accompanied by a burning sensation, or coursing waves of heat through the lower limbs, can be a terribly uncomfortable burden to bear.
Burning can indicate muscular involvement or neurological involvement, and is a common add-on symptom to the pain, tingling, numbness and weakness inherent to sciatica. In very few cases, burning may involve actual heat, but for most patients, the feeling is merely the perception of heat in the legs or feet.
This essay will explore
why some patients feel a burning sensation radiating down one or both
legs, or accumulating in the feet, as part of a sciatic nerve syndrome.
Burning might be experienced in the muscles, with perceived or actual heat present in large muscle masses in the lower back, buttocks or legs. Burning might also feel like liquid fire burning in canals through the legs. This feeling can be very frightening and might intensify already present symptoms by increasing the nocebo factor of the pain condition. Remember, worry will always make any physical pain much worse. Finally, there may be the perception of burning pools of liquid in the feet, creating a heavy and sore sensation in select areas of the entire foot.
Burning might be linked to movement or particular activity, especially if it resides in large muscles. This can indicate a potential soft tissue injury, but can also be a perfectly normal side effect of muscular ischemia. Unfortunately, in many patients, the perception of burning is idiopathic and often not overly studied or considered by the treating physician.
Finding relief from sciatica burning generally requires one simple, but sometimes difficult to attain factor: An accurate diagnosis. Trying to treat pain which is idiopathic or misdiagnosed is a fool’s errand, like target shooting in the dark. You hope that your treatment might hit the right target, but the possibility is slim, at best.
It is crucial to consider all possible explanations for burning back pain, including the structural musculoskeletal and neurological abnormalities which may be involved, as well as the potential psychoemotional causes and contributors. Remember that some chronic sciatica is actually enacted, worsened or perpetuated by a psychosomatic process, not an anatomical injury. Dr. John E. Sarno, an expert in mindbody medicine, cites that the more unusual the pain pattern, the more likely that the patient has a psychological factor involved with the expression. This certainly holds true for some varieties of burning sensations, but not all.
No one wants to feel as if their lower back, buttocks and legs are on fire. This is pure torture to be sure. Finding a cure for long term sciatica is one of the most difficult things to achieve in medical science, since many doctors simply do not present a complete picture of all the possible sources of pain in their diagnostic profile.
For patients with actual physically-induced pain, the traditional and complementary treatments should work well. However, if you have already tried a wide range of appropriate therapy options, without success, there is a good chance that your pain might be more than it first appears to be.
It is possible that your pain has been mistakenly blamed on a spinal source, while all along, it exists due to subconscious emotional stress. It is also completely possible that some other structural or disease-enacted process is causing the pain, with a coincidental factor being mistakenly blamed.
Your neurologist should be able to help you sort out these types of common diagnostic problems.
I can add, anecdotally, that I suffer from recurrent burning in my legs and feet on some rare occasions. However, I suffer it regularly in the base of my neck. There seems to be some correlation in my own expressions, as well as the symptoms described by many patients, and the occurrence of central spinal stenosis. This is particularly true in my own research statistics when the stenosis is variable and enacted by serious central or paracentral herniated discs. I do have some serious spinal cord displacement right near the burning location and also have a large central disc pathology in the lower back, as well.