Sciatica; Pain That’s Hard to Pinpoint. You feel it in your legs, but it’s caused by a problem in your back. Sciatica takes its name from the nerves that run from your spine to your feet. When a sciatic nerve in your lower back is irritated, it can cause pain and numbness.
The Sciatic Nerves
The sciatic nerves are the largest and longest nerves in your body.
The run from the lumbar (lower) spine and sacrum, over the surface of the buttocks, down the legs and into the feet.
What You May Feel
Most often you’ll feel a “pins and needles” type of pain or numbness. It will start in your back and shoot down your legs, sometimes as far as your big toe. This pain is called referred pain because you don’t feel it where it begins. you may also notice a weakness in your calves and buttocks.
Most people who experience shooting pains in their legs are suffering from a temporary, preventable condition. Personal habits, lifestyle and job choices can all contribute to irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Watch Your Wallet
If you have sciatica and a sit down job, check your wallet. A big, bulky wallet in your back pocket can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. If you remove the wallet, the pain may go away.
What You Can Do
* Avoid sitting for too long.
* Treat sciatica with ice or a cold pack in the middle of your lower back.
* Exercise to strengthen and stretch your back and stomach muscles. Practice good posture. Wear low-heeled shoes. Avoid sitting with your wallet in your back pocket.
* Use safe lifting techniques.
* Sleep on your side or back.
* Avoid repetitive motion tasks that you do over and over again that seem to bring on sciatica.