Sciatic nerve pain (also called sciatica) is pain or discomfort that begins in the lower back and travels down the back of one leg. This back pain may radiate down to the foot and toes, feeling like a cramp or sharp type of pain.
If you’re suffering from sciatic nerve pain or any other orthopedic condition, you can rely on our diagnosis and treatment options in the Bay Area at Dignity Health.
Symptoms with Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain often occurs after a sudden or sharp movement like sneezing, coughing or sitting down. The pain is typically worse in the affected leg than the lower back.
You may notice these symptoms paired with sciatic nerve pain:
- Burning sensation
- Leg or foot weakness
- Tingling or “pins and needles” sensation in the leg or foot
If you have new or worsening symptoms of sciatica, come to your nearest Bay Area location. You should seek urgent (same-day) care for sudden or severe symptoms in both legs or if you lose bladder or bowel control. This is a sign of severe nerve compression and will require surgery right away.
Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain
A herniated or slipped disc in the lower back is the most common cause of sciatic nerve pain. This occurs when the soft center of a disc in the back pushes against or squeezes through the thick outer ring. When this occurs with a disc in the lower, or lumbar, region of the spine, it can put pressure on the large sciatic nerve and causes pain in the back and through the legs.
Other conditions that can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve include:
Diagnosing Sciatic Nerve Pain
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, as well as give you a physical exam. During your exam, you may be asked to sit, lie down, walk, run, kick your legs in the air, and squat to trigger sciatic nerve pain. An imaging test, such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI, may also be useful to confirm their diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.
Find Sciatic Nerve Pain Treatment at Dignity Health
You can often find relief from sciatic nerve pain by applying hot and cold packs, taking over-the-counter pain medications, and through stretches and massage. If these don’t provide relief, your doctor may recommend:
- Medications, including prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxers
- Physical therapy to strengthen nearby muscles and take pressure off the sciatic nerve
- Steroid injections to reduce nerve inflammation and relieve lower back pain
- Surgery to correct a herniated disc or remove bone fragments compressing the sciatic nerve
Trust your complete treatment for sciatic nerve pain to our expert orthopedic team at Dignity Health. Find a Doctor today to get started.
Dignity Health is relied on for orthopedic care, including treatment for sciatic nerve pain, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Redwood City.