The largest single nerve in the body of every human is called the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from both sides of the lower spine, coursing through the buttocks, the posterior of the thigh, and down to the foot.
The major role of the sciatic nerve is to connect the spinal cord with the muscles of the foot and leg. The sciatic nerve can be compressed, inflamed, or damaged by different factors which can range from infection, pressure, systemic illness, or injuries. Any neurological condition that affects the sciatic nerve is called sciatica.
Sciatica, known as lumbar radiculopathy in medical terms, is caused by compression of one of the nerves in the spinal column. The resulting radicular pain originates from the radicular nerve that has been compressed in the spine.
The symptoms emanating from sciatica depends on the particular spinal nerve that has been affected. However, the pain from sciatica is related to irritation of the S1 or L5 nerve root by herniation.
The nerve roots, which form the sciatic nerve, are delicate, so when the herniated discs compress them, it releases inflammatory proteins which can cause irritation to the nerve. This causes pain to radiate from the buttocks down the lower limb.
Conditions that Cause Sciatica
A number of conditions that cause sciatica are related to the lower back region. The major cause of sciatica is herniation of the lumbar disc. However, the following disorders can cause pain in the sciatic nerves:
Symptoms of Sciatica
In most cases, sciatica affects one only half of the body and the following are the most common symptoms associated with dysfunction:
Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatica from L4 Nerve Root
This form of sciatic originates from the L3–L4 level in the lower part of the spine. Associated symptoms include searing pain that occurs within the medial region of the lower leg and the foot. Other symptoms might include an inability to raise the foot. Knee-jerk reflex is popularly common in this form of sciatica.
Sciatica from L5 Nerve Root
Compression of the nerve that lies between the L4–L5 segments of the lower spine might result in problems with moving the feet. One of the symptoms of this type of sciatica is weakness encountered in the ankle and when a patient tries to extend the big toe. This condition is called “foot drop.” Other symptoms include numbness at the web between the big toe and the second toe.
Sciatica from S1 Nerve Root
Sciatica from the S1 nerve root occurs as a result of the compression of the nerve between the L5–S1 segments of the spinal cord. Common symptoms include numbness at the lateral region of the foot, severe pain, weakness, the inability to raise the feet off the ground, and tip-toe gait. Patients with this condition usually battle with limited ankle-jerk reflex.
How Sciatica & Foot Pain Can Be Related
There are many reasons why you might feel pain in your foot but it will do you a lot of good to know that not all forms of pain in your foot stem from your legs, toes, or foot. Moreover, the pain is not always caused by trauma or injury to your foot—there might be some underlying causes.
Sometimes, this pain might be caused by problems in your lower back and leg pain. Generally, patients with a pinched nerve or even a herniated disc in their spine will experience pain in their lower limbs. More often than not, it will be uncommon to see foot pain occurring in isolation (without aches in the leg).
If the nerve root in the posterior area of the back is compressed, the resulting lower back condition, which may sometimes cause pain in the back, can cause the pain to proliferate along the sciatic nerve all the way down to the foot.
The sciatic nerve comprises five nerves that branch off the spine for bending and stretching along many muscles in the lower extremity. Sciatica nerve damage causes foot pain and the culprits here are a herniated lumbar disc, lumbar spine issues (lumbar spinal stenosis), and spondylolisthesis.
Foot drop is a neuromuscular disorder that is caused by sciatica and sciatic pain. This condition causes the person to drag the anterior part of the feet during movement and requires physical therapy.
The patient usually performs a high-step gait to make up for the dragging. When this neurological condition occurs, it affects the muscles of the ankle and feet. The radiating pain caused by foot drop is quite debilitating.
Inability to Walk on Tip Toes
Sciatica nerve pain can cause chronic pain in the soles of the feet which makes it difficult for patients to tiptoe while walking or raise their heels while walking. Common symptoms of this condition include weakness of the gastrocnemius muscle.
Treatment of Foot Pain Caused by Sciatica
During the early stages, sciatica is usually not life-threatening. It can easily be reversed on its own after a short period of time. To reduce symptoms, some mild exercises can be done while over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken.
However, consuming dietary sources rich in antioxidants like Alpha-Lipoic acid has been shown to aid in the recovery of the damaged nerve and decrease the pain caused by neuropathy. One of the best ways to enrich your body with this essential mineral is by supplementation.
Nerve Renew is a cutting-edge nutrient supplement brand that is tailored to meet the needs of those suffering from one of many types of neuropathic pain. Patients suffering from sciatica, in particular, will find this superior formula extremely helpful because it consists of high-quality forms of vitamins like vitamin B1 and vitamin B12, which have been proven to play a pivotal role in keeping the nerves healthy.