Do you ever feel discomfort or tingling in your leg? Do you get a numbness in your hip or sharp pain in the sole of your foot? If so, you may have something called sciatica.
You’ve probably already heard this term, as it tends to be one that people throw around a lot to diagnose their aches and pains. Actually, sciatica is not a medical problem per se, but rather a description of the pain, numbness, weakness and other symptoms in the leg, buttocks, or feet.
The sciatic nerves transmit all signals from the lower body, and are the longest nerves we have. Sciatica starts to occur when these nerves become damaged. For example, a slipped disk, degenerative disk disease, and an injury to the pelvis are a few of the health issues that may lead to sciatica.
Typically sciatica pain is felt just on one side. Sitting or standing for long periods of time tend to make it worse, and many people get it more at night than during the day. For some people, sciatica pain is no big deal. It can be a mild or dull pain that is easy enough to live with. But in other cases, the discomfort can be crippling and some people are literally unable to move when they are experiencing it.
If you suspect that you have sciatica, you should definitely go in to see your physician for a checkup and official diagnosis. Although many people tend to self-diagnose both themselves and others with sciatica it is best to involve your doctor, who can then recommend proper treatment. During the exam, he or she may check both of your legs, looking for things like weakness when you bend your knees, abnormal reflexes, and lifting your leg straight into the air, which will often result in pain. You might also get things like X-rays or an MRI to get a complete diagnosis.
If you do leave your appointment with the official word that you have sciatica, take heart in the knowledge that in some cases the pain will go away on its own. One thing that will help with healing is to figure out what is causing the nerve issue in the first place. Once this has been achieved it may be easier to manage and treat the pain. In some cases, surgery may be warranted, like in the case of a herniated disk. Physical therapy can also be useful.
If your pain is severe and you are finding it difficult to move around, there are prescription pain medications that may help. Steroids are also useful in some cases. But for many, taking a few Advil or other over-the-counter pain medication and some time and patience will do the trick to keep your sciatica under control.