The pain may be worse when you sit or lie down.
This type of pain is usually felt in your lower back or buttocks. It’s sometimes called lumbar disc syndrome.
It usually has a sharp, shooting, burning, or stabbing pain. The pain may come and go.
It may be accompanied by:
- Muscle spasms
- Pain when you move parts of your body
- Muscle pain
- Loss of bladder or bowel function
Peripheral neuropathy is the medical term for nerve pain. It can affect any part of your body and is often caused by injury, disease, or autoimmune conditions.
Peripheral neuropathy can cause:
- Burning pain in your legs, feet, arms, or hands
- Cramping or burning in your feet
- Tingling, pins and needles, or numbness in your hands or arms
- Numbness or loss of sensation in your feet, legs, or genitals
- Foot pain when you stand up
- Foot numbness or weakness
- Tingling or weakness in your legs
- Weakness in your arms
- Trouble moving your eyes or face
- Trouble swallowing or eating
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Problems with bowel movements
- Pain or swelling in your chest
- Pain or swelling in your neck, jaw, shoulders, or back
Migraines can cause severe pain on one side of your head.
Migraines are common, with an estimated 10 to 20 percent of people experiencing them. They often start between the ages of 15 and 40.
Migraines are often referred to as “tension headaches.” They can cause the following symptoms:
- Moderate to severe pain that’s worse at night
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Headaches that worsen after exercise
- Headaches that worsen with cold and flu
- Headaches that last longer than a few days
- Tingling in the back of your head, behind your ears, or in your face
- Headaches that happen in both sides of your head
Severe and frequent
Severe and frequent pain usually means that your pain is much worse than normal at times and is interfering with your daily activities.
Severe and frequent pain can make it difficult to do anything including go to school and work.
- Varies in intensity
- Occurs with activity
- Is present all day
- Interferes with your normal activities
- Is severe
- Occurs with movement
- Is severe enough to wake you up at night
- Is severe enough to interfere with your ability to think clearly
Stagnant pain is pain that isn’t changing. It’s often described as a dull ache.
The pain is similar to a throb that’s only present during certain times of the day. This type of pain is often confused with muscle cramps because it can feel similar to a painful muscle spasm.
Other symptoms of stagnation include:
- Dull pain
- Pain that worsens when you bend or lift
- Pain that doesn’t go away
- Pain that’s worse in the morning
Sciatica is a compression of the sciatic nerve or the sciatic nerve. It’s usually caused by a spinal disc that’s herniated or bulges out of its normal place.
Sciatica typically causes:
- Pain in your buttock, leg, or back
- Pain that radiates down your leg
- Pain that’s worse with certain activities
- Pain that’s worse when you sit or stand
- Pain that feels like pins and needles
- Numbness or tingling in your leg
- Soreness, weakness, or burning in your leg
A pinched nerve is a sudden or severe pain that originates at your spine, usually in a person’s neck, or in your upper or lower back.
A pinched nerve can be caused by a herniated or bulging disc.
Other symptoms of a pinched nerve include:
- Pain that worsens with certain activities
- Pain that radiates down the arm or leg
- Pain that feels like a tingling or numbness
- Sharp pain that shoots down the back of the leg
What causes sciatica?
Causes of sciatica can include:
- Lifting a heavy object
- Walking or running
- Sitting for a long time
- Sitting or standing for a long time
- Not stretching or warming up before exercising
- Not keeping your spine flexible
- Not doing any form of exercise
- Herniated or bulging disc
- Injury to the spine
- Weak muscles in your lower back
- Nerve inflammation
- Nerve stretching
- Nerve compression
- Nerve damage from an old herniated disc or cancer
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal compression
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
Sciatica can cause a wide range of symptoms that vary in severity. These symptoms include:
- Burning pain
- Sharp pain that shoots down the back
- Sharp pain that shoots down the leg
- Muscle weakness or cramping
- Numbness or tingling
- Pain in the back, buttocks, or leg
- Pain in the feet, ankles, or feet, toes, hands, or hands
- Pain that’s severe
- Severe muscle spasms
- Severe pain when you move, such as walking
- Severe pain that is worse with movement
- Severe pain that is worse with certain movements
- Numbness or tingling in your foot
- Soreness, weakness, or burning in your foot
- Pain when you put pressure on your foot
- Pain that occurs in both feet, toes, or hands
What are the risk factors for sciatica?
Risk factors for sciatica include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having diabetes
- Being older than 60
- Having back problems
- Having a family history of or having been diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc
- Having a previous spine injury
- Having a previous surgery
Treatment for sciatica
Treatment for sciatica will depend on the severity of your symptoms and whether you have other health conditions.
Treatment may include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Heat and cold therapy
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Steroid injections
Medications for sciatica can include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Prescription medications that reduce inflammation
What’s the long-term outlook?
Your outlook will depend on the severity of your symptoms, how well you respond to treatment, and your overall health. It’s important to get your doctor’s approval for any prescriptions before taking them.
People who have herniated or bulging discs, muscle weakness, or nerve compression may have a poor long-term outcome if they don’t get treatment. People with diabetes are more likely to have a poor outcome if they don’t receive treatment.
If you have a herniated disc, your long-term outlook will depend on how severe the disc is and how it’s treated.
A 2013 research review published in the journal Spine revealed that when they’re treated, people with herniated discs had a better long-term outlook than those who didn’t.
The review found that people who received nonsurgical treatment had a low risk of having to have another back operation. However, the authors also note that nonsurgical treatment was not effective in people who had a more severe herniated disc.
Outlook for people with sciatica
It can be difficult to determine what’s causing your symptoms. However, if your symptoms are getting worse or not responding to treatment, you should see your doctor.
You should also see your doctor if you have any other health conditions or risk factors. Your doctor can help you determine whether your symptoms are caused by sciatica or another health condition.
A 2019 research review reported that people who are treated have a better outlook than those who don’t. However, the authors note that more research is needed.
It’s important to see your doctor if you have any symptoms of sciatica. They can help determine the severity of your symptoms and treatment options.
Can sciatica be prevented?
The best way to prevent sciatica is to try to keep your spine healthy. You should also try to do the following to maintain your spine’s flexibility:
- Stretch and warm up before exercising
- Take a break from strenuous activities if you begin to feel pain or muscle cramps
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time
- Try to keep your spine flexible by doing yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or other types of physical activity
- Maintain a healthy weight
How is sciatica treated?
Treatment options for sciatica include:
- Prescription medication
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Pain-relieving injections
- Lumbar fusion
- Spinal cord stimulation
You may also want to consider seeing a chiropractor to make sure your back is healthy. A chiropractor can help you with posture, alignment, and stress management.
Surgeries for sciatica include:
- Lumbar laminectomy
- Lumbar laminotomy
- Lumbar microdiscectomy
- Lumbar foraminotomy
Other treatments for sciatica include:
- Electrical stimulation
- Chiropractic therapy
What is the outlook for sciatica?
Your outlook will depend on your age, overall health, and if you have other health conditions.
You should see your doctor if you have symptoms of sciatica or other health conditions. They can help you determine if your symptoms are caused by sciatica or another health condition.
The bottom line
Sciatica is a condition where pain develops in your lower back. It can cause shooting pain that travels from the lower back into the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet.
Sciatica can be caused by a herniated or bulging disc, inflammation, or weak muscles. It can also be caused by other health conditions.
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