Why You Should Never Ignore Sciatic Nerve Pain

Mar 03, 2023
Why You Should Never Ignore Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain could be more serious than you realize. It can cause a lot of complications if it goes ignored and untreated.

Do you struggle with sciatic nerve pain? If so, you’re not alone. 40% of Americans have dealt with sciatic nerve pain at some point in their lives. While sciatic nerve pain can eventually go away on its own, it’s still important to always seek treatment since the risk for complications is high.

At Coast Neurosurgical Associates, our team wants you to know why you should never ignore sciatic nerve pain. 

What is sciatic nerve pain?

Sciatic nerve pain, also called sciatica, is a symptom of your sciatic nerve being irritated in some way. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body, starting in your lower back and running down the back of your leg to just below your knee. 

Sciatic nerve pain can range from mild to severe and can cause tingling and numbness anywhere along the path of the nerve. It can also cause shooting pain down the length of your leg and can be aggravated by sitting for long periods of time.

What causes sciatic nerve pain?

Most often, sciatic nerve pain is brought on by a herniated, or slipped, disk. When the disk is out of place, it puts pressure on the nerve causing any of the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain. 

There a few things that can raise your chance of experiencing sciatic nerve pain:

  • Having diabetes
  • Your age
  • Having obesity
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle

If your job requires you to do a lot of heavy lifting for long periods of time, this can also put you at risk for sciatic nerve pain.

Complications of sciatic nerve pain

Up to 90% of people who deal with sciatic nerve pain find that it will eventually go away on its own. However, sciatic nerve pain can be chronic and has the potential to develop into something more serious.

If left untreated, sciatic nerve pain can lead to a condition known as cauda equina syndrome. This disorder develops slowly over time, so it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to control your bladder or bowels
  • Pain or numbness in one or both of your legs
  • Having difficulty standing and walking
  • Severe loss of feeling in the lower part of your body

These symptoms are caused by a herniated disk pressing on the nerves that control your bladder and bowels. If cauda equina syndrome is left untreated, it could eventually cause paralysis.

If you don’t seek any type of treatment for your sciatic nerve pain, like taking anti-inflammatory medications or doing physical therapy, you might have to receive surgery to repair any damage that can’t be fixed through non-invasive measures.

In addition, sciatic nerve pain can also cause emotional distress. This pain can limit your ability to move around comfortably and can cause you to lose sleep if your pain is severe enough. If you already struggle with anxiety, your pain and anxiety can both be worsened by chronic episodes with sciatic nerve pain.

Next steps

If you’ve struggled with sciatic nerve pain, it’s important to seek help to relieve your symptoms so it doesn’t become worse down the road. Treatments could include hot and cold compresses, steroid injections, or physical therapy. 

If you’d like to seek medical treatment for your sciatic nerve pain, you can call our office located in Long Beach, California at 562-595-7696 or book an appointment online.