Sciatica is one of those things where there’s no question whether someone has it or not. The pain or the shock-like feeling is so strong that it can’t be mistaken for anything else. One patient dealing with sciatica knew exactly what the pain or shock was. She remembered having it one time while pregnant. A few decades later, she experiences occasional sciatica.
Here’s what you need to know about chronic sciatica, which also goes by the medical term “radiculopathy.”
How to Describe Sciatica Symptoms
What are the signs of sciatica? There’s no typical case profile for chronic sciatica. Here are the most common signs of sciatica:
- Pain that shoots from the rear down the leg.
- Shock-like pain in the leg.
- Burning or tingling down the leg.
- Rear pain that gets worse while sitting.
- Weakness or numbness in the leg or foot.
- Constant pain on one side of the rear and leg.
Sciatica symptoms can last for seconds or days or longer. Its related symptoms can also include lower back and hip pain. Some patients describe it as a warm sensation in the leg and thigh or a burning pain in the calf. The shock-like pain could feel like pins-and-needles in the rear and legs. Some experience heaviness, numbness, or both while walking.
Friends and family may not understand why chronic sciatica is such a problem. Using these terms might help them understand. Ask them to imagine experiencing something painful or uncomfortable that goes on for hours or days.
Living with Chronic Sciatica
Acute sciatica usually improves between four to six weeks. Chronic sciatica, on the other hand, can last for more than eight weeks. It takes more time and treatment to resolve. Not all patients with chronic sciatica feel pain every day, all day. It may come and go depending on the person’s activity or position.
What makes sciatica challenging is that it’s a symptom. It’s not the cause or a medical diagnosis. No doctor can “cure” sciatica unless they figure out the source. A neurologic exam, x-rays, CT scans and MRI scans are some of the tools used to look for the source. Sciatica is usually related to an irritated or pinched nerve in the lower back.
Potential causes of sciatica include spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, or a lumbar herniated disc. But diagnosing the cause and selecting a treatment is not always clear cut. It may require trying things such as medicine, physical therapy, heat and cold therapy, or epidural steroid injections.
Noninvasive treatment can ease the discomfort. It’s a matter of finding the right one. In the rare event that calls for it, the doctor may recommend surgery. Today, we have microsurgery and other minimally invasive options for most forms of sciatica.
Have a question? Please contact us or call 214-823-2052. We have two conveniently located offices in Addison and Dallas serving patients in Dallas, Addison, Plano, Frisco, Garland, and other cities in the DFW metroplex.