Getting Relief for Sciatic Pain and Leg Numbness Naturally
Sciatica is defined as pain affecting the back, hip, and leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often the consequence of degeneration of an intervertebral disc, disc herniations or an inflamed low-back nerve. It generally begins to occur in people ages 25 to 45 and tends to worsen with age. And while approximately 80% of the population experiences back pain at some point in their lives. In my experience of treating patients for 15 years, low-back pain often worsens into sciatic nerve problems.
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body extending from the lower end of the spinal cord down the back of the thigh, and dividing above the knee joint. Trauma, falls, overextending yourself physically, being cramped in a vehicle seat such as an airplane and lifting heavy objects improperly are a few of the types of activities that may result in sciatica.
Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms which are usually based on the location of the compressed nerve.
persistent pain felt in only one leg or one side of the buttock
a searing, throbbing, burning, or sharply stinging pain in the leg and foot
numbness, persistent or sudden weakness, a pins and needles feeling, electric-shock-like feeling and/or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
a sharp pain that may make it difficult to rise from a sitting position or walk
Sciatic pain levels run the gamut from infrequent and irritating to constant and incapacitating. It may come and go or be debilitating to the point that it makes it difficult to walk, sleep or perform simple everyday activities.
The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back running from the lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of each leg. Portions of the sciatic nerve then branch out into each leg to supply certain parts of the leg—the thigh, calf, foot, and toes—with nerves.
While leg pain may be caused by a problem originating in the leg, very often the cause can be traced to the lower back where the sciatic nerve originates in the lumbar spine and pelvis.
Sciatic nerve compression can cause excruciating searing pain in the leg extending from the lower back or buttocks and down the leg. It may also present as intermittent pain that shoots all the way down the leg and occasionally into the foot.
Leg numbness caused by sciatic nerve compression can be almost continuous severely affecting one’s ability to perform simple tasks such as walking or driving a car. Leg numbness ranges from a slight tingling sensation to total numbness down the leg and into the foot.
Leg weakness or heaviness significantly interferes with movement and mobility. Weakness in the back of the calf and pronounced difficulty walking tiptoe, dragging of the foot, buckling of the knees or difficulty rising from a sitting position are prominent symptoms of sciatic nerve compression. Foot drop, the impaired ability to raise the toes or raise the foot from the ankle is a gait abnormality caused by weakness, irritation or damage to the L4/L5 branch of the sciatic nerve.
Constant pain can also be a symptom of sciatic nerve damage. Normally felt in the buttock area, pain may occasionally radiate past the buttock into the leg. This pain typically presents only on one side and is commonly called sciatica or lumbar radiculopathy. Gentle movements and stretching as well as walking can provide relief for constant sciatic pain.
Leg numbness occurs when nerve impulses are unable to get through. This type of numbness most often occurs on the side of the calf, on the top or bottom of the foot, or on the heel or sole of the foot. While on the surface leg numbness seems a better alternative to pain, it may actually be a somewhat ominous symptom signaling that the nervous system is unable to communicate warnings from the affected part of the leg back to the brain.
The important thing is to seek the counsel of a neurosurgeon, orthopedic physician, or chiropractic physician should any of the symptoms outlined in this blog article arise. Sciatica is a condition very regularly treated by neurosurgeons with injections, physical therapy and surgery. Orthopedists treat sciatica in a similar way while chiropractic offers a non-surgical and non-invasive way to treat the painful condition of sciatica. Call us today to book a complimentary consultation.
Fishman, Loren. Sciatica Solutions: Diagnosis, Treatment and Cure of Spinal and Piriformis Problems. W W Norton & Co Ltd, 2007.