Different Types of Pain Along the Sciatic Nerve
Sciatica, in general, refers to pain and other symptoms that occur when there is too much pressure on your sciatic nerve or when this nerve is irritated. This is the nerve that goes from your lower back down to your toes. Depending on the cause of your symptoms and which part of your body it affects, you might experience different types of pain.
Causes of Sciatica
When you have a bulging or ruptured disc in your spine, it can press on the nerve roots that lead to your sciatic nerve. This is among one of the most common causes of sciatica. Other conditions that cause damage to your spine can also result in pain along the sciatic nerve. These conditions include spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and arthritis.
Pain and Tingling in the Lower Leg and Foot
When you have sciatica that affects the L4 nerve root in your lower or lumbar spine, you might experience soreness or numbness and tingling that extends from your lower back down to your foot. You might also have trouble moving your foot up when you walk. Other symptoms that are associated with sciatica in this area include problems with the reflexes in your knee on the affected side.
Pain and Tingling in the Top of the Foot
When you have sciatica that originates from the L5 nerve root, you might have pain or numbness and tingling from your lower back down to the top of your foot. You might also have weakness in your ankle and big toe, which makes it much harder to walk or put any pressure on your foot.
Pain and Tingling in the Outside of the Foot
When your sciatica comes from the S1 nerve root in your spine, you might have pain and tingling or numbness along the outside of your foot. You might also have a difficult time lifting your heel while you walk and you might not be able to walk on your tiptoes. The reflexes in your ankle on the affected side might also be reduced.
Variations in Symptoms
Keep in mind that where sciatica originates is not the only factors that affects the kinds of symptoms you have. The pain and tingling you experience can also vary based on what is causing sciatica and how severe it is is. For example, you might have more pain after you get up after sitting if you have spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine). In some cases, sciatica might cause a sharp pain to flare up along the sciatic nerve, while in other cases, sciatica might produce a persistent pain that is more of a dull ache.
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