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5 Signs of Sciatica

Are you struggling with shooting pain that runs from your buttocks or lower back into your leg? You may be suffering from sciatica, a sign that the largest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve, is irritated or compressed. 

As with other back and lower extremity pain, the sometimes debilitating pain associated with sciatica can make getting through your day a challenge. At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, we know how difficult it can be to deal with pain — especially when you aren’t certain about what’s causing it. 

John Huffman, MD, and our team have the experience necessary to diagnose and treat different types of back and lower extremity pain so you can find effective, long-term relief. Take a moment to learn about the five signs of sciatica and how we can help! 

Understanding sciatica

The sciatic nerve begins in your lower back and branches throughout your hips, buttocks, and legs. Rather than a condition, when people talk about sciatica they’re referring to the pain you experience when this large nerve is compressed or irritated.  

Most of the time, a nerve pinched by a herniated disc is the most common underlying cause of sciatica. However, other possible causes of sciatica include conditions like pregnancy, arthritis and other joint trouble, bone spurs, tumors or cysts, swollen muscles or tissue, and infection. 

Signs you may have sciatica

You know sciatica can cause pain in your buttocks and into your legs, but there are other signs to watch for. Here’s a closer look at five common signs you may have sciatica: 

1. Sharp pain in your leg

The most common sign of sciatica is a sharp pain that runs from the back of your buttocks into one of your legs. This pain sometimes feels like an electric shock shooting down your leg, and while the intense pain may be intermittent, you may feel a constant deep ache or soreness in the affected leg.

2. Numbness, tingling, or burning in the leg

Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations can accompany the irritation or compression of any nerve. When the sciatic nerve is affected, you may feel these symptoms running down your buttocks and leg. You may also experience a “pins-and-needles” sensation as the result of sciatica.

3. Symptoms worsen after sitting 

With sciatica, you may notice that your pain or other symptoms are worse after sitting for long periods or after lying down. They can also worsen if you’re on your feet for stretches of time. 

4. Muscle weakness

The leg affected by sciatica may feel weaker than your other leg. Sometimes this weakness affects your gait and can lead to referred pain in other areas. People who are very active or are runners may notice this more than sedentary people.

5. Loss of balance and mobility

The pain associated with sciatica can make it difficult to move your leg or foot and create issues with balance. If the compression is extensive, you may even find it challenging to walk. And because sciatica makes it hard to stand evenly on both legs, you’re more likely to fall or lose your balance. 

Treating sciatica

Before beginning treatment for sciatica, it’s important you receive an accurate diagnosis. Other conditions may cause similar symptoms, and Dr. Huffman uses thorough evaluations and diagnostic testing to ascertain whether sciatica is the cause of your symptoms. 

Once a diagnosis of sciatica is confirmed, Dr. Huffman creates a customized treatment plan to alleviate your pain and address the underlying problem that’s causing it. Some of the modalities used to treat sciatica may include:

Don’t suffer any longer from the pain sciatica can bring! Contact the Northern Virginia office of Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists or book an appointment online with Dr. Huffman now. Our practice also offers virtual visits for your convenience and safety!

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