5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Ignore the Symptoms of Sciatica

July 27, 2020
  • Author : Carolyn Mohsenzadeh

One of the most common lower back disorders, sciatica afflicts more than 80% of Americans at any given time. According to Harvard Health, the condition is just as rampant at a macro scale, with over 40% of the global population experiencing its symptoms.

The disorder causes dull or sharp pain, numbness, and weakness along the path of the sciatic nerve, which begins at the spinal cord, traverses through the hips and buttocks, and extends down the legs.

However, despite the condition’s prevalence, many people leave it undiagnosed and untreated, thereby putting themselves at risk of developing chronic back pain that inhibits functionality, mobility, and flexibility.

If left unaddressed, the condition can worsen, eventually requiring surgery.

The symptoms of sciatica commonly include:

  • Back and hip pain
  • Cramping in the muscles
  • A tingling pins and needles sensation that extends throughout the legs
  • Weakness and numbness
  • Tightness in the affected area
  • Shooting aches that cause difficulty in standing
  • Incontinence (inability to control the bowels and bladder)

While the symptoms may be mild in their initial stages, they tend to increase in severity as the condition progresses. Prolonging the time elapsed between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis can cause long-term damage to the sciatic nerve.

If you’ve been overlooking the symptoms of sciatica, it may be time to acknowledge the condition’s acuteness and seek remedial treatment accordingly.

We’ve rounded up five reasons you shouldn’t disregard the deleterious symptoms of sciatica.

1. Untreated Sciatica Can Cause Irreparable Nerve Damage

Nerve DamageIf left untreated, sciatica can cause permanent nerve damage that worsens back and leg pain. Over time, the pain may extend to other parts of the body. In some cases, patients stop responding to pain medication, thereby developing chronic pain that cannot be remedied.

Patients with diabetes experience a heightened risk of irreparable nerve damage.

Timely detection, diagnosis, and treatment can help patients find non-invasive and minimally invasive yet effective care, thereby eliminating the chances of them developing permanent nerve damage.

2. You’re at Risk of Suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome

Leaving the symptoms of sciatica unaddressed puts individuals at risk of developing cauda equina syndrome (CES). This condition is caused by damage to the cauda equina—the bundle of nerve roots situated at the lower end of the spinal cord. CES may cause permanent paralysis.

The condition is classified as a medical emergency and causes unendurable lower back pain accompanied by incontinence. Patients also experience a burning and tingling sensation in the legs that restricts mobility and causes walking difficulties.

3. You May Develop a Loss of Motor Control and Sensation

Motor ControlIn extreme cases, patients suffer a loss of sensation in the affected limb. This is especially dangerous for diabetic patients, as the loss of sensation is exacerbated and accompanied by a loss of motor control.

The sciatic nerve is responsible for lending sensation to the lateral and posterior lower leg—including the plantar nerve. It also provides motor functions to pivotal muscles and the hamstrings. Prolonged compression of the sciatic nerve causes a reduction and gradual cessation of sensation, resulting in painful and debilitating loss of movement.

In such cases, patients experience irreparable motor dysfunction that leads to the need for an amputation.

4. You May Require Surgery If the Condition Is Left Untreated for Too Long

If detected and diagnosed early, patients can undergo non-invasive treatment comprising physical therapy and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). However, if left unattended for an extended period, the condition may require surgery.

For patients with tomophobia—the fear of invasive medical procedures—and preoperative anxiety waiting too long can be especially challenging.

5. Your Psychological Health Could Be Affected

Psychological HealthWhile sciatica causes undue physical stress to the body, it also causes mental and emotional stress that affects patients on a day-to-day basis. This may be caused by sciatica-induced irregular sleep, sporadic excruciating pain, and incontinence.

The overwhelming psychological stress can take a toll on patients and exacerbate their overall health and wellness.

If you suffer from back pain and think that it may be sciatica, let the specialist at Houston Neurosurgery and Spine help you find an accurate diagnosis. With effective treatment, we can prevent the onset of sciatica and its debilitating and immobilizing effects that can cause irreparable damage. As one of the leading back and spine center in Houston, we specialize in helping patients find relief from sciatica.

Symptoms of Sciatica4Using state-of-the-art technology, cutting-edge software solutions, years of medical expertise, and the latest insights, our team of neurosurgeons can perform innovative and personalized procedures, including endoscopic discectomy and endoscopic foraminotomy.

We examine your symptoms, lifestyle, medical history, genetics, and medication use of each patient to determine the best course of treatment, which includes non-invasive and minimally-invasive alternatives.

To learn more about our approach, tour our website. Or call 832-522-8500 to schedule an appointment for back surgery for Sciatica.