Ouch! My Leg Hurts — Know the Symptoms of Sciatica

Many people use the term sciatica interchangeably with lower back pain. However, sciatica is actually a collection of symptoms that are caused by sciatic nerve compression, causing far more problems than low back pain. In fact, it’s a common cause of pain in the legs, thighs, and buttocks.

At McNulty Spine, our expert orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist, Patrick S. McNulty, MD, helps patients from throughout Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, recover from sciatica and other painful spinal problems with state-of-the-art procedures ranging from spinal injections to surgery.

Sciatica symptoms

Sciatica includes a variety of symptoms in addition to low back pain, such as:

Your symptoms can range in severity from mild to debilitatingly severe. Also, depending on the location of your sciatic nerve compression, you might have sciatica symptoms on one or both sides of your body. 

Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It starts where five nerve roots join together in your lower back. Your sciatic nerve extends down toward your buttocks, where it splits to reach down the back of each of your legs, ending near your ankles. 

Sciatica causes

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc in your lower spine. Herniated discs develop when the soft gel interior of a spinal disc pushes out of its rubbery shell. There’s very little space in your spine, so the bulging disc is likely to compress a nerve and cause local and radiating symptoms. 

You might also have degenerating tissue in your spine that compresses your sciatic nerve. Additionally, spinal stenosis in your lumbar spine can cause sciatica. Stenosis occurs when your spinal canal becomes narrow. 

When to talk to a doctor about sciatica

If you have low back pain or other sciatica symptoms that don’t subside after a couple of days of rest, give us a call to schedule an appointment with Dr. McNulty. Additionally, if you develop sudden and severe sciatica symptoms, or if your pain follows a sports or automobile accident, give us a call right away.

Dr. McNulty provides expert diagnosis and customized treatment for sciatica. Depending on your condition and its cause, he might teach you stretches to practice at home that relieve your symptoms and alleviate the nerve compression. He might also provide a spinal injection to deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into your spine to reduce swelling. 

In severe cases, Dr. McNulty can perform spine surgeries like laminectomies to repair or remove the herniated disc that’s compressing your sciatic nerve. However, he typically tries noninvasive treatments before recommending surgery. 

If you have sciatica symptoms that are interfering with your life, give us a call or make an appointment online today. Sciatica is often easily treated with exercise and stretches — don’t suffer needlessly. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Do You Know You Have a Herniated Disc?

Having back problems with pain? You’ve heard the term “herniated disc,” so you figure it has something to do with your spine, and you know it causes back pain — but how do you know if it’s happened to you?

These Bad Habits are Making Your Sciatica Worse

The cause of your sciatica may be out of your control, but you have the power to keep it in check or make it worse every day. Find out which habits are triggering your sciatica flare-ups so you can avoid them for better living.

Common Risk Factors of Kyphosis

A hunchback, a dowager’s hump, poor posture — call it what you will, but the technical term is kyphosis. Do you have to worry about it happening to you? Find out about what can raise your chances of getting kyphosis.

Understanding Sciatica

It can trigger pain far from its source, it has many possible causes, and the symptoms range from mild tingling to shocking pain — your sciatic nerve can be a mystery. Here are the basics about this super long nerve and the facts you need to know.

8 Signs of Kyphosis

If your upper back is beginning to slump like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, you may have kyphosis. But even if yours isn’t that extreme, the signs are there, warning you to get early treatment. Here’s what you need to know.