Sciatica symptoms stomach is a numb feeling in the calf area. It is usually a feeling that is sharp and can be a burning pain. Some people describe it as a tingling or prickling sensation.
Sciatica symptoms stomach can occur anywhere in the lower leg and often affects the calf of both legs. It is usually felt on both sides of the body.
Pain in the calf area is usually felt on both sides of the lower leg. The symptoms may be mild or severe. For example, the pain can be mild on one side or severe on both sides.
The symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person. Sciatica symptoms can affect people of any age.
Causes of sciatica
Scientists aren’t yet sure what causes sciatica, but they think it is related to the transmission of nerve impulses.
The nerves that run from the lower leg to the calf are long and thin. The sciatic nerve is one of the longest nerves in the body.
When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, it can cause a variety of symptoms.
The nerve contains a bundle of axons, which are the nerve cell bodies. When the axons become compressed, they can cause pain and numbness in the lower leg.
The sciatic nerve may become compressed by:
- A herniated disk in the spine
- A mass in the back
- A herniated nucleus pulposus in the spine
- A bulging or herniated disc between the vertebrae
- A bulging or herniated disc in the neck
- Spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing or stretching of the spinal column
Risk factors for sciatica
Some people are more likely to develop sciatica than others.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
- Spinal injury
- History of spinal surgery
- History of a herniated disc
- Being over 60 years old
- Being male
Symptoms of sciatica
Sciatica symptoms are usually felt in the lower leg, but can occur in other parts of the body, especially the buttocks and lower back.
The symptoms can vary from person to person and can also be described as tingling, prickling, numbness, or a burning or shooting pain.
Sciatica symptoms can include:
- Pain that is usually sharp and can be a burning pain.
- Numbness or tingling sensations.
- Pain that may radiate down one side of the body.
- Pain that is usually felt on both sides of the lower leg.
- Leg or foot that may be cramped or stiff.
- A loss of sensation in the foot, ankle, or leg.
Diagnosis of sciatica
To diagnose sciatica, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Your doctor may use a variety of tests to diagnose sciatica.
The most common tests include:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will check for tenderness, bruising, and swelling in the lower leg.
- Imaging tests. Your doctor may order an MRI or CT scan. These tests can help your doctor look at the bones, ligaments, and discs in the lower back.
- Nerve conduction tests. These tests can evaluate the electrical activity of the nerves.
Treatment of sciatica
Treatment for sciatica will depend on the cause.
If the pain is caused by a herniated disk, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, occupational therapy, or a combination of both.
If you have a bulging or herniated disc in the neck, your doctor might recommend surgery.
If your symptoms are caused by a herniated disc in the lower back, your doctor may recommend spinal surgery.
If you have sciatica caused by a bulging disc in the neck, your doctor might recommend the following:
- Steroid injection. Steroid injections can help reduce the swelling and pain of the herniated disc. Steroid injections are usually used in the neck and back.
- Back brace. A back brace can help keep the spine stable.
If you have sciatica caused by a bulging or herniated disk, your doctor might recommend:
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion in the leg and foot.
- Spinal surgery. Surgery can help repair a herniated disk or relieve pressure in the spine.
The symptoms of sciatica can vary in intensity. If you have severe symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the pain or numbness.
Pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can help reduce the pain of sciatica.
If your symptoms are caused by a herniated disk, your doctor may prescribe:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can help reduce the pain and inflammation of the disk.
- Anti-seizure medication. Anti-seizure medication may help relieve the pain and inflammation caused by the herniated disk.
- Cortisone injections. Cortisone injections can reduce the swelling and pain.
What is the long-term outlook?
If you have sciatica, you may be able to avoid surgery by finding ways to manage your symptoms. Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications can help.
Your doctor may also recommend that you try certain exercises to strengthen the muscles in the lower leg and foot.
If you don’t have any relief from the pain, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Prevention of sciatica
There are some things you can do to prevent sciatica.
Lifting heavy weights can help strengthen your back. You can also do daily stretching and strengthening exercises.
If you are overweight, losing weight can reduce your risk for sciatica.
If you’ve had recent back surgery, be sure to follow your recovery instructions carefully.
Take care of your back and spine by exercising regularly and staying active. It can help prevent future problems.
When to call the doctor?
See your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Tingling or numbness in the leg or foot
- Sharp pain or burning in the leg or back
- Leg or foot that is cramped or stiff
- Loss of sensation in the foot, ankle, or leg
You should also see your doctor if the pain is severe and you also have any of the following:
- Severe leg pain that doesn’t improve or gets worse after two weeks of physical therapy
- Numbness or weakness in the leg or feet
- Bulge or bulge in the back that is larger than a golf ball
- Pain that is worse with standing or walking
- Numbness in the hand or fingers
- Pain that gets worse when you sit or stand
Outlook for sciatica
Most people with sciatica will have some relief from their symptoms within a few days. For some people, their pain will go away within two weeks.
Sciatica often lasts for weeks or months. It’s important to seek medical treatment if your symptoms last longer than two weeks.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you do exercises and stretches to strengthen your muscles and improve your flexibility.
If the symptoms of sciatica are caused by a herniated disc, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The symptoms of sciatica can vary in intensity. If your symptoms are severe, you may need medication to help reduce the pain or numbness.
You can help prevent sciatica by doing the following:
- Lifting heavy weights.
- Doing daily stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Getting regular exercise.
Talk with your doctor about the safest exercises and stretching for you.
Get emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- A severe, sudden attack of leg or back pain
- Black, tarry, or bloody stool
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both legs
- Numbness or weakness in one or both feet
- A sudden onset of severe leg pain
- Severe, sudden back pain
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both arms
- Pain that gets worse when you stand or walk
- A sudden onset of sharp pain
- Severe leg pain that doesn’t improve or gets worse after two weeks of physical and occupational therapy
- Numbness or weakness in the leg or toes
- Sudden leg pain
Take the Quiz!
Does sciatica cause back pain?
Sciatica is a very common cause of severe back pain. However, back pain is not always caused by sciatica.
Back pain is also a common symptom of a problem in the lower back, called a lumbar spine herniated disk.
A lumbar spine herniated disk can be caused by a herniated disk in the lower back.
Other causes of back pain include:
- Tension, sciatica, or radiculopathy (nerve pain)
Lower back pain and sciatica
Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions. These can include:
- An infection of the back, such as discitis, osteomyelitis, or epidural abscess
- Herniated disk
- Muscle strain
Other causes of lower back pain include:
- Muscle or ligament spasm
- Herniated disc, which can cause a bulge in the lower back
- Degeneration of the discs
Sciatica can happen for a variety of reasons. You are more likely to get sciatica if you are older, overweight, or have a history of back injury.
There are many treatments for sciatica, but finding relief may take several weeks or months.
If you continue to have symptoms after trying a variety of approaches, see your doctor
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