More often than not, the term sciatica is associated with pain which may pass from the low back down through the buttock and back of the leg, passing as far down as the tips of the toes. However, although pain is the most common complaint from someone suffering with sciatica, numbness and tingling (pins & needles) can also be a symptom.
Firstly I would like to clear one thing up and that is with regards to the term ‘sciatica’. Sciatica is only a descriptive term, not a diagnostic one. Therefore, two people may be presenting with exactly the same signs and symptoms as a result of sciatica, yet they may have two completely different causes. Consequently, their treatments would also be different.
The sciatic nerve passes from the lower back, through the buttock and down the back of the leg, providing innervation for the muscles and also sensations back up to the brain. When anyone suffers from an attack of sciatica, somewhere along the length of the nerve (usually in the low back or buttock region, but not exclusively) the nerve is being aggravated, typically by a compressive force.
If this compression becomes quite severe, the electrical signals which usually pass both up and down the sciatic nerve become impeded, and therefore the messages they are sending may not pass fully along the length of the nerve. If these messages are only partially restricted, a tingling or pins & needles sensation may be perceived. This is because some of the messages are getting through but not all of them.
However, if the compression is so severe that none of the electrical signals are able to pass through, numbness will be present in the region of the body which that part of the nerve supplies. With regards to the sciatic nerve, it is typically felt in the toes / feet or maybe calf (although it can be felt higher up).
If you are feeling numbness and / or pins & needles, it is important to have this assessed by a health professional. More often than not it is a just a typical symptom of sciatica which can be resolved, however it is best to have it checked first.
Finally, as well as pain, numbness and pins & needles, weakness can be another symptom of sciatica. If the electrical messages are not able to pass to your brain from the skin correctly, numbness and pins & needles may result as explained above. However, it is also possible the messages may not be able to pass the other way. Therefore, if the messages you are sending from your brain to your muscles are not passing along the sciatic nerve 100%, the receiving muscles are not going to work as strongly as they should be, resulting in muscle weakness.
Paul Boxcer - Bsc (Hons) Physiotherapist, has over 10 years experience of treating people in pain. During this time and especially over the last few years, he has concentrated his treatment on those suffering with Low Back Pain & Sciatica.
Following years of analysis of different treatment procedures (http://expertbackcare.com/Sciatica.html ) his belief is that our own body has an innate desire to heal itself, no matter what the injury. When someone suffers from Sciatica it is no different. By ensuring the body is given the correct conditions to heal itself, conditions such as Sciatica can be resolved just as easily as a twisted ankle or pulled muscle. . .
Knowing what to and not to do, is the crucial element.
His book "Free Yourself of Back Pain & Sciatica" not only explains everything you need to know in order to allow the body to heal itself, but also ensures the risk of subsequent episodes is kept to an absolute minimum. Subscribe NOW to his Treat Your Sciatica course and begin curing your pain STRAIGHT AWAY!