The symptoms of Sciatica are fairly easy to diagnose but the pain can range from mild tingling to extreme burning causing crippling discomfort. Pain radiating down one leg is generally the first sign but others include weakness in the leg or foot (footdrop), and numbness. There’s plenty of exercises on Youtube that show ways to alleviate the symptoms of Sciatica but in extreme cases, when compression of lumbar nerves sends sharp waves of pain down through the calf and ankle, stretching may not help.
My most recent bout with Sciatica was caused by a pinched nerve. The disc at L4/L5 was protruding laterally and had compressed lumbar nerves causing extreme pain from hip to ankle. The burning sensation at the ankle was so extreme that I almost passed-out from the intensity. The only way to alleviate the pain was to lay on my stomach with my right leg over my left. After 10 days of continuous pain, it was time to see a doctor.
After a few preliminary tests involving motor skills and flexibility measures, the orthopedic surgeon quickly diagnosed Sciatica. Decompression through disc surgery was the only option for me. As the New England Journal of Medicine points out, almost 85% of Sciatica cases are related to disc problems.
So, why did I wait 10 days..? I had experienced Sciatica before and it gradually got better over a month. And though it was painful to walk long distances, I managed to gut it out which in hindsight may have done more damage. In my first blog post I mentioned this notion of knowing your body and at the 10-day mark, I knew mine well enough to realize that I was in need of immediate medical attention.
If your Sciatic symptoms aren’t as severe, here’s a few ways to alleviate pain:
4 Exercises to Soothe Your Sciatica
And heres a quick 1 minute routine, for those visual learners.