San Francisco Spine Surgeons

Could you be Living with Sciatica? Here’s How to Find Out!

Sacroiliac Joint San Francisco Bay Area, CAWhenever a person develops shooting pain down the back of the leg or tingling or numbness that affects the lower extremities, the conclusion that is quickly drawn is that they must have sciatica. Indeed, these complaints, as well as jolting pain down the leg when one sneezes or coughs, do indicate a type of sciatic nerve pain. The thing is, there is more about this “condition” that needs to be explored than its most simple explanation.

Let’s start with the fact that sciatica is not a condition at all; it is a symptom that includes pain, numbness, or tingling from the lower hip and buttocks all the way down to the toes. The reason for these sensations is not in the leg at all, and not at the hip; it is in the back. In many cases, sciatic nerve pain is an indication of nerve impingement in the lowest spinal segment.

Because 80% of the pain of sciatica occurs in the leg, and there is very little back pain involved, it may be easy to miss the opportunity for appropriate action. Also, the aches and pains that develop may imply more muscle involvement than nerve. Here’s how to know the difference.

  • Check your knees. Check one knee. Sciatica gives new meaning to the term “weak in the knees.” In the leg affected by sciatic nerve impingement, pain and tingling may coincide with weakness, and that weakness may be the biggest indicator of a low back problem.
  • Take account of your normal activities. Runners and other athletes may develop symptoms that resemble sciatica due to a contracted muscle in the buttocks. Piriformis syndrome primarily occurs in highly active individuals. If leg pain affects a person with a relatively sedentary lifestyle, there is a good chance the problem originated in the low back.
  • Pain occurs when it wants to. We may imagine that all pain follows a random pattern, but there is a way that we can test origin based on the ability to summon pain. When pain originates in muscle tissue, a soft push or poke will most likely trigger or worsen symptoms. Nerve pain like sciatica does not react at all in the same manner.

Sciatica is not a symptom that you want to ignore as if you could. To prevent ongoing pain, obtain a consultation from your San Francisco spinal surgeon. Sciatica treatment may not need to involve surgery at all, but a full assessment of spinal health is advantageous for optimal body mechanics, as well as comfort.

Contact us at (415) 750-5570 to schedule your visit.

Posted in: Sacroiliac Joint

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