If your sciatic nerve becomes inflamed, the condition is called sciatica (pronounced si-ad-i-ka). The pain can be intense! It often follows the path of your nerve down the back of your legs and thighs, ankle, foot and toes, but it can also radiate to your back. Along with burning, sharp pains, you may also feel nerve sensations such as pins-and-needles, tingling, prickling, crawling sensations, or tenderness. Ironically, your leg may also feel numb.
To complicate matters, although sciatica pain is usually in the back of the legs or thighs, in some people it can be in the front or the side of the legs, or even in the hips. For some, the pain is in both legs – bilateral sciatica!
The quality of pain may vary. There may be constant throbbing, but then it may let up for hours or even days. It may ache or be knife-like. Sometimes postural changes, like lying down or changing positions, affect the pain, and sometimes they don’t. In severe cases, sciatica can cause a loss of reflexes or even a wasting of your calf muscles.
For sciatica sufferers, a good night’s sleep may be a thing of the past. Simple things like walking, sitting, or standing up can be difficult or impossible.