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Signs You Have Sciatica: January 9, 2014

Sciatica- it sounds like something your grandma may have had- it’s true older people are more prone to the condition, but the young or middle-aged aren’t exempt.

“I’ve seen sciatica in patients as young as 19. So is it more common in the older population? Absolutely.  But it’s not uncommon to see this symptom in 30 and 40 year olds,” says Dr. Christopher Dawson, physical medicine and rehabilitation on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff. 

Difference is, young people are less familiar with the signs.

“When patients come to my office with sciatica, they describe sharp, shooting pains down the leg.  They might have weakness in the muscles of the leg.  They also might complain of a numbness or tingling sensation in the leg,” says Dr. Dawson.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers this list of sciatica's most common symptoms: feeling a persistent cramp in the leg, pain when you sit, sneeze or cough, leg weakness, numbness or pins-and-needles in the leg or a burning sensation that runs down the leg

Sciatica isn’t actually a leg problem- it’s a nerve issue. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, branching out from the spinal cord in the lower back, running through the legs and buttocks. When this nerve is compressed, injured or inflamed, it triggers sciatica. Once identified, there are several treatment options.

“Conservative measures are first and foremost.  Those include physical therapy.  Also, medical management, sometimes a course or corticosteroids by mouth and also injection therapies are of great benefit for these patients,” says Dr. Dawson.

Knowing the signs, symptoms and underlying cause of your mystery leg pain, may put you on the path to relief.