Up to 43% of Americans will have a sciatica experience in their lifetime. It’s a pain syndrome resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. You’ve got two; they branch off the spinal cord and then run down each leg.
As well as pain at the source of nerve compression or irritation, you could experience a range of other symptoms anywhere along the sciatic nerve’s path.
Usually, you feel sciatica on one side of your body, though it’s possible that both sciatic nerves could be irritated simultaneously, or that irritation could affect each nerve at different points in your life.
When you’re suffering from sciatica pain, you want relief. As an expert in treating sciatica symptoms, Dr. James Nassiri of Westside Pain Specialists can help you get past the potentially life-stopping symptoms that this nerve condition creates.
There’s plenty to learn about sciatica, so let’s take a closer look at this common back problem.
The longest and thickest nerve
Though the sciatic nerves are considered a pair, each is actually a bundle that originates from five roots as they branch off from your spinal cord.
This bundle is as wide as a penny, running through the buttock and hip, then along the outside of your legs until just past the knees, where they split into separate nerves that reach down as far as your toes.
Sciatica is not a condition
The word “sciatica” describes the symptoms of conditions affecting the sciatic nerve. It’s not a condition itself. Most often, sciatic nerve compression originates with a herniated disc or bony growths that press on nerve tissue.
As well as pain, sciatic nerve compression can create muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling along the nerve’s path.
Can sciatica switch sides?
The question itself is somewhat misleading. Because there are two sciatic nerves, one on each side, and both could fall victim to nerve compression, you could have sciatica symptoms on the left or on the right and, in rare cases, on both sides simultaneously.
If you’re suffering from right-side sciatica, for example, it won’t move through your body to affect the left side. It’s possible, though, for the left side to have its own nerve compression, and it’s also possible for one source to compress nerve roots on both sides.
While symptoms may be similar on both sides, each set of sciatica symptoms results from direct compression on one sciatic nerve.
Most cases of sciatica resolve themselves, though it could take weeks or months without treatment. Mild cases may be manageable with over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Rest, ice, and heat also help with mild cases.
When possible, treating the underlying cause of nerve compression is the ideal solution. Much depends on the specifics of your individual condition.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Nassiri by calling our nearest office in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California. With an exam and diagnosis, you’re in a position to make the best decision regarding sciatica. Call us today.