Symptoms of disc problems: pain, numbness, and more

Sciatica is a common type of pain that affects your sciatic nerve that extends from your lower back through your hips and the back of each leg.

Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in your buttocks or leg that gets worse when you sit
  • Hip pain
  • Burning or tingling sensation in the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving your leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of your butt
  • A sharp pain in your leg that makes it difficult to get up

Sciatica usually only affects one side of your lower body. Often times, the pain extends from your lower back to the back of your thigh and down through one of your legs. Depending on where your sciatic nerve is affected, the pain can extend to your foot or toes as well.

For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe, making it difficult for them to do things that they normally do. For others, it may not take long, but it bothers them and it can get worse.

What causes it

Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, usually from a herniated disc or bone spur. Other common causes of sciatica include:

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back)
  • Degenerative disc disease (waste of intervertebral discs that act as pads between your vertebrae)
  • Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another)
  • pregnancy
  • Muscle cramps in the back or buttocks

Other things that can make your back pain worse include being overweight, not exercising regularly, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

When to call the doctor

Your sciatica may go away on its own, but if your pain is severe or doesn’t go away, you should see your doctor. Sciatica can be treated with physical therapy, medication, and surgery.

See a doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness in the lower extremities
  • Numbness in the leg
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Severe lower back or leg pain