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    Our Guide to Different Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain – What to Know



Our Guide to Different Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain – What to Know

Out of all the nerves, sciatica nerve pain is arguably one of the most debilitating as the sharp, numbing pain can disrupt a person’s daily life. It can put a halt in one’s actions once the pain hits the sciatic nerves – from eating a meal, driving the car, to working at a nine-to-five desk job. 

If you feel like you have sciatic nerve pain, the guide below should clue you in on what you need to know to help re-direct you to proper treatment options. 

What is Sciatica? 

The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body as it runs from the lower back, through the hips, buttocks, down each leg, and to the end of your toes. Sciatica, on the other hand, refers to the irritation of the sciatic nerve, which can send pulsing pain that radiates along the path of this nerve. 

The pain can be pulsing or burning, though the intensity of the pain varies from patient to patient. In most cases, sciatica only affects one side of the body, though doctors will need to determine the type to uncover the root of the problematic condition. 

What are Different Types of Sciatica? 

There are two broad categories of sciatica, such as the following: 

  • Neurogenic Sciatica – This type of sciatic triggers one the sciatic nerve gets squeezed or flattened, both of which can happen in various ways. This sciatic nerve pain typically manifests along with the length of one leg, though some experience bouts of lower back pain. Patients suffering from neurogenic sciatica may also deal with numbness and muscle weakness, both of which are red flags that indicate sciatica. 
  • Referred Sciatica – This sciatica counterpart indicates sensitivity in specific areas of the body near the sciatic nerve. This means that developing problems in the spine or pelvis can trigger a numbing pain along the path of the sciatic nerve, though it doesn’t weaken the muscles like neurogenic sciatica. 

Sciatica is Radiculopathy

By categorizing the different types of sciatica in two major problems, doctors can track the root of the problem to the source of the pain in common areas like the following: 

  • L4 Nerve Root – As the moniker suggests, it refers to the L4 vertebra of the lower spine. Once the L5 slips over the L4 vertebra, it can compress the nerves and lead to sciatic nerve pain. Those suffering from sciatica in the L4 nerve root may struggle with shooting pain in their foot and lower leg. 
  • L5 Nerve Root – Once the doctor finds the L5 nerve root as the source of the pain, they can determine how the sciatic pain will affect the patient’s top foot and toes. 
  • S1 Nerve Root – Patients suffering from sciatic nerve pain in the S1 nerve root, which is in the lower spine, can expect a burning pain along the outline of the foot. 

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, five to ten percent of people who suffer from lower back pain highly likely struggle with sciatic nerve pain too. While the pain attacks can often be paralyzing, the upside is that most patients have high chances of recovering within six to 12 weeks so long as they undergo proper treatment. 

If you’re looking for sciatica physical therapy in NYC, get in touch with us to see how we can help.


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