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Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatic is pain that originates in the low back and then travels through the buttock region down the bulky sciatic nerve in the back of the leg. Sciatic pain may be slight, severe, or debilitating and is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms

  • Pain on one side of the buttock or leg—rarely occurs in both legs
  • Pain that is worse when sitting or makes it difficult to stand up
  • Hot shooting pain or tingling down the leg—not a dull ache
  • Numbness, weakness, or difficulty moving a leg or foot
  • Sharp pain that makes it difficult to stand or walk

If you have one or more of these symptoms, you may be experiencing sciatica. Sciatica is not a medical diagnosis; it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Causes of Sciatica

sciaticaBy far the two most common causes of sciatica are:

  • Compression of the sciatic nerve roots by a protruding disc in the low back
  • A herniated, or bulging, disc in the lower back/lumbar region.

Both of the above conditions cause irritation of the sciatic nerve root, which can result in extreme pain. Some aggravating factors include

  • Irregular exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Poor core stability
  • Wearing high heels
  • Sleeping on a mattress that is unsupportive
  • Poor chair posture
  • Strenuous lifting

Less common but more serious causes of sciatica include

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis — narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back
  • Degenerative discs — breakdown of disc cushions between the vertebrae
  • Spondylolisthesis — one vertebra slips forward over another one
  • Traumatic falls

Get Relief from Sciatic Pain

Sciatic pain can range from being infrequent and only slightly irritating to becoming constant and absolutely debilitating. While symptoms can be extremely painful, it is rare that permanent damage to the sciatic nerve will result. Treatment for sciatica often differs, depending on underlying causes and pain levels.

At Golden Gate Physical Therapy we have a high success rate treating sciatic pain. If you are suffering from sciatica symptoms, we can help.

Did you know that in California you do not need to see your doctor prior to coming to see a physical therapist? Talk to us to see how we can help you feel better. Of course, if your condition warrants it, we will refer you to a medical specialist.