Our professionals at Chiropractic by Thriveology in Denver, want you to know how to tell if you have sciatica. Many people think that sciatica is back pain that radiates down your legs, accompanied by a quick jolt. Contrary to popular belief, sciatica doesn’t usually involve much back pain at all. Sciatica is really a symptom of a pinched nerve and involves shooting leg pain that can be found anywhere from the hip area down to the toes.
Here are some additional ways to tell if your pain is sciatica.
Feeling Leg or Knee Weakness
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the human body, stretching from the lower spine to the foot. When this nerve is pinched, its ability to function is interrupted and results in painful sensations, tingling, and weakness. While pain is what will cause patients to seek care, the combination of pain and weakness in the same leg is a red flag that the sciatic nerve is involved.
You’re Not a Runner
Runners will frequently experience all the same symptoms of sciatica, but it can turn out to be piriformis syndrome. A slipped disc still causes similar symptoms but it presses on the piriformis muscle. If you are not a runner, then it is likely your issues are sciatica.
You Can’t Pinpoint the Exact Source of Your Pain
Use your thumb to press on various areas in your lower back and legs. If you can locate a spot that seems to be the true location of your pain, then your issue is muscle related. Muscles, when injured, can radiate pain throughout the body, particularly if the muscle is shortened (contracted) and tight. If you cannot find a specific source for your pain, then your sciatic nerve is a likely source.
You Can’t Pass the Test
Doctors use the following simple test to determine if someone has sciatica. Start by lying down and stretching out your legs. Have someone help you raise your leg to between 30 and 70 degrees while keeping your legs straight. If you experience pain—especially pain that radiates down to below your knees and even to your toes, you likely have sciatica. This test stretches the sciatic nerve which if it is compressed or injured will produce pain during this motion.
Extra Trips to the Bathroom
This is a sign that your sciatica is much more serious, especially if you have the typical sciatic pain and totally lose control of your bowel and or bladder movements. If you are experiencing this rare symptom, see a doctor immediately because the damage to your bowel and bladder can become permanent if not remedied immediately.
The best news is that sciatica can resolve itself a large majority of the time. Patients can often get resolution more quickly if they visit chiropractic professionals, such as the ones at our office, Chiropractic by Thriveology in Denver. Even acute sciatica should feel improvement within 90 days. If you are not showing signs of improvement, getting help is key. Now that you know how to tell if you have sciatica, contact us at our office for assistance in relieving your nerve pain.