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What are the Different Types of Sciatica Symptoms?

Autumn Rivers
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which is located in the lower back, and down the backs of both legs. Therefore, most of the sciatica symptoms affect these areas, though some more severe signs of this condition may extend to other parts of the body. The main symptom to be observant of is pain, which can occur in the lower back, buttocks, the back of the legs, or all of these areas at once. Numbness or tingling can also occur in these body parts. A more severe symptom that signals that the sciatica has advanced is loss of the bladder or bowel control.

Most sciatic nerve pain starts in the lower back, but it rarely stays there. It often travels down to the buttocks, and continues from there to the thighs and calves. It is typically worse when sitting down, and it can occur in either one or both sides of the body. The pain can be described by some as a shooting, sudden pain, especially when moving suddenly, or it could be referred to as a dull, constant ache. Some people suffer from such sciatica symptoms all the time, while others only experience it during certain times of the day, especially in the morning after getting out of bed; either type can be acute.

Numbness in the leg is another common sign of sciatic nerve pain, and it may even travel to the foot. Tingling in the foot and toes is another of the various sciatica symptoms, and some people experience both numbness and tingling at the same time in different parts of their leg or foot. This can result in difficulty moving either the foot or the leg as the numbness or tingling occur, as it may feel like the affected body part is asleep since it has the feeling of pins and needles. Like the radiating leg pain, this sensation may come and go or it may be present nearly all the time.

One of the most worrisome sciatica symptoms is the sudden loss of bowel or bladder control. This can actually be a sign of cauda equine syndrome, which is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by medical professionals quickly, though it is quite rare. In fact, a doctor's treatment should be sought for any sudden leg or low back pain, tingling, or numbness, especially if these issues show up following a violent or traumatic accident. The problem can typically be treated with medication or physical therapy, so those with sciatica symptoms do not usually have to suffer for long after seeking treatment.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Jan 19, 2014

I was just diagnosed with sciatica. I had a car accident two days ago. Afterward, I started having lower back pain and weakness in one leg. I can't put weight on my right leg. I actually don't have much numbness. It just feels like my leg isn't holding up.

Has anyone here experienced this? How long will it take for my leg to return to normal?

By serenesurface — On Jan 18, 2014

@fBoyle-- Yes, it can. It happened to me. When I had sciatica, I had numbness, tingling, pins and needles in my legs, as well as jerking. In fact, the first night that I had sciatica, I couldn't sleep because my left leg kept jerking every few minutes. It's an involuntary movement but it's very frustrating and painful. Moreover, I had serious numbness in my legs. It was such an odd feeling not to be able to feel them. Tingling and pins and needles made it worse.

I was put on medications immediately, so thankfully, my sciatica nerve pain symptoms did not last more than a few days. But it was scary.

By fBoyle — On Jan 18, 2014

Will sciatica cause jerky movements in the legs and feet?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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