Sciatica symptoms may include a diversity of painful and disturbing expressions virtually anywhere in the lower anatomy. Symptoms of true sciatica occur due to a spinal nerve compressions problem, while other nonspinal or nonstructural causes will enact pseudo-sciatica expressions.
There are four typical sciatica symptoms which I like to refer to as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. These symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness and weakness. While sciatica is a very individualized pain syndrome, these symptoms typically make an appearance in virtually every patient at some point in their agonizing experiences.
This resource section will provide focused articles which each detail a specific symptomatic expression or location. This section will also provide a comprehensive overview of the sciatica condition from a symptomatic perspective.
Sciatica pain is definitely the most widely reported of all radiculopathy symptoms. Pain can be experienced in the lower back, buttocks, legs or feet and might range from dull to extreme. Pain is not only the most prevalent symptom, but is also the one which elicits the most fear, since it can literally ruin the quality of life for any affected patient.
Sciatica muscle spasms can occur in some patients, bringing on unimaginable agony and creating long lasting emotional scars.
Chronic sciatica pain is generally not caused by an injury or degenerative condition, although these circumstances are typically blamed for enacting the symptoms. Most injuries will heal on their own or resolve with appropriate medical attention. Most degenerative conditions are not symptomatic at all and are merely a normal part of the spinal aging process.
However, some cases of enduring pain can result from extreme injury or degeneration, if a neurological tissue is affected long-term.
Read more about the occasional occurrence of sciatica without pain.
Symptomatic expressions range greatly in cases of sciatica. These essays provide an in-depth look at many of the possible symptoms that patients may suffer:
Unilateral sciatica affects only one side of the body.
Bilateral sciatica occurs on both sides of the body.
Sciatica leg cramps are commonly experienced in the thighs or calves.
Sciatica foot drop is a frightening dorsiflexion deficit that might reduce physical functionality significantly.
Sciatica stiffness is a virtual given for most patients. Stiffness of the usual result of recurrent or chronic sciatica attacks. Sciatica tight muscles are yet another consequence of cramping and enduring pain in the legs and buttocks.
Sciatica disability may occur when symptoms reach extreme degrees.
Burning sciatica is related to pain, but entails a sensation of interior heat in the nerves or muscles.
Women's sciatica may be caused by the same sources as male versions or might be linked to a gender-specific origin.
Elderly sciatica can come from many processes, but is less common that one might think, given the degree of spinal deterioration that is found in this age demographic.
Sciatica in children might be misdiagnosed as growing pains in some instances.
Sciatica constipation is often due to nerve innervation concerns for the bowels.
Sciatica sexual dysfunction is a terrible consequence of nerve compression or other process that affects sexual functionality.
Sciatica and hemorrhoids may be related in more ways than one.
Incontinence can occur with sciatica due to singular spinal and unrelated nonspinal causes.
Sciatica tingling is a common neurological symptom which shows up in a great number of diagnosed patients. Tingling is not a usual expression of continuing nerve compression, as is commonly thought. However, tingling is possible when nerves are disrupted, partially compressed, chemically irritated or when full compression first occurs.
In a true compressive neuropathy condition, pain will usually be the first symptom, followed by tingling as the condition moves towards subjective then objective numbness, followed by objective weakness.
Tingling is also very common when the source process is not structural, such as in the case of diabetic neuropathy or localized nerve dysfunction from a disease process.
Actual or perceived sciatica weakness can result from injury, inflammation or ischemia. In back pain patients, all three of these situations are presented frequently. However, inflammation due to traumatic injury will heal within days and should not cause ongoing muscular weakness.
Injury to the back muscles or spinal structures should also heal and weakness is typically a temporary symptom lasting several days to several weeks.
For weakness which endures for months or even years, the cause is virtually always a continuing nerve compression syndrome which has left the innervated area deprived of vital life energy and the inability to function normally.
Sciatica numbness sounds good to some patients who experience mostly pain, but it is certainly no joy to endure. Numbness is a disturbing feeling, which usually follows or co-exists with tingling and is often eventually followed by objective weakness.
Continued compression of a spinal nerve root will indeed cause long-term numbness in the affected anatomical region. For patients who experience chronic numbness without pain, a pinched nerve is often to blame. However, bouts of recurrent numbness, especially in the presence of pain and tingling, are more commonly caused by ischemia or some other nonstructural causation.
No matter what symptomatic profile you must endure, I understand how miserable sciatica can truly be. I suffered with a constantly changing symptomology over the course of decades spent battling back and leg pain. This ordeal continues to this very day.
Constant and consistent symptoms may be better indicators of some types of structural causation. Pinched nerves, for example, should not vary much in terms of location or expression, especially after they have existed for some time.
Variable, wide-ranging or often changing symptoms are better indicators of an ischemic pain syndrome, disease process or pseudo-sciatica source, such as piriformis syndrome. Central spinal stenosis can also elicit a highly variable symptomatic process in some patients, as well.
It is vital to report all your symptoms to your neurologist and keep them up to date on any changes which occur. The more information the physician has, the better prepared they will be to help correctly diagnose the true cause. Once this is achieved, then proper treatment can be rendered.