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You Experience Sciatic Nerve Inflammation Symptoms
Can sciatica cause pain in your knee? Yes. Your sciatic nerve is actually five separate nerves that pass through your spine, into your buttocks, and then travel down the back of each leg through your knee. Because the sciatic nerve is responsible for sensory and motor functions, its unsurprising that sciatic issues can lead to pain anywhere along its neural pathway including the knees.
Sciatic nerve pain can cause a variety of other symptoms as well, including:
- Muscle tightness in the hamstrings, quadriceps or hips.
- Muscle spasms in your back or legs.
- A burning sensation in the back of your legs.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control.
If You Suspect Sciatica
Seeing a Physical Therapist or Orthopedic Physician is a great first step. In many cases, physicians will not prescribe medications or medical imaging until you have tried a conservative treatment approach first. So I would lean toward Physical Therapy first.
Because Sciatica is often a result of inflammation at the nerve the goal is to help promote a positive environment for healing. In order to do that we need to eliminate postures and movements that may be causing compression and strain to the Sciatic nerve.
If you recall, Sciatica is often triggered by pressure on the nerve from a disc in your back. Avoiding slumped back postures and minimizing sitting is key for reducing stress on the nerve. Stretching the nerve can also cause a spike in pain if done early on. We go into more detail in this article.
If we suspect Sciatica our go to exercises are discussed in the videos below.
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Treatment Tips You Can Follow To Manage Knee Pain
Depending on your physicians diagnosis, they can create a specific treatment plan which will address the root cause of your problem and help you relieve knee pain. Surgery is often not the first option a specialist will propose for your treatment.
You can expect your doctor to recommend physical therapy, postural correction, and self-care to help you heal. Here are a few treatment tips you can follow to help you care for your body:
Proper Diagnosis Essential To Treatment
The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, such as:
- When the pain started
- Where you feel the pain
- Activities that reduce or worsen pain and symptoms
- Whether the pain goes all the way down your leg or stops at the knee
- Is there weakness or tingling in your legs and/or feet?
- How severe your pain is, on a scale of 1 to 10
The doctor may perform a straight-leg test to see if you have an inflamed nerve. You lie on your back while the doctor lifts each leg. If lifting a leg causes, or produces sciatic-like pain and sensations, you may have a bulging or ruptured disc.
The doctor may ask you to walk as you normally do, then on your heels and next, your toes. This helps the doctor to check your balance and aspects of lower-body strength. Compression of the nerve can cause muscle weakness in the foot which will be revealed by these tests.
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You Have Bunions Forming On Your Feet
It may be surprising to hear that bunions on your feet and your spine can affect each other. You may be wondering how these two can be connected and how they have an impact on your knees.
Bunions or bone spurs may grow on your feet if you have a back problem. The L5 and S1 spinal nerves travel to the muscles stabilizing inside and outside of your feet. If these nerves become injured, the muscles will be weakened and unable to perform effectively. You wouldnt be able to walk, run, or stand as you normally would.
Once this happens, your feet will roll towards the inside and the arches will flatten out to support your weight with the inner edge of your feet. Foot pronation occurs when the main tendon continues to stay misaligned and keeps the joint of the big toes tilted unnaturally, creating pressure in the joint where bunions can form.
The strain of moving this way tends to cause back pain. When the back and feet areas are weakened, the knee joints have to work harder and wear out faster, causing knee pain.
Can Sciatica Cause The Knee Pain Im Feeling
As many as 40% of people will experience sciatica at least once in their lifetime. Your sciatic nerve starts in the lower spine and then branches off to travel down each leg. It is responsible for all the feeling in your legs. When you injure your legs or lower back, or develop other spinal conditions, you can irritate the sciatic nerve. This usually results in nerve pain. This is known as sciatica.
Do you experience lower back pain that feels like its traveling down the buttocks and even into your legs or knees? Then sciatica may be the cause of your knee pain.
How to know if sciatica can cause your knee pain
If youre wondering if sciatica can cause knee pain, then ask yourself if your knee pain can be traced back to a knee injury or condition. If youre experiencing pain in one knee with no obvious causes, then sciatica may be the cause. If you injured your lower back, then the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can be felt as knee pain. This is known as referred pain.
Some signs that may indicate sciatica is causing your knee pain:
- Sciatica usually only produces pain in one leg at a time. If you have pain in both knees, then this may indicate youre suffering from a different condition. This knee pain can be felt as a dull, aching sensation, a warm feeling or even sharp pain. Sciatica can also result in weakness in the legs or knees.
Armor Physical Therapy is prepared to help relieve your sciatica symptoms
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Need Help How Can A Hip Pain Professional Help
Your Hip Pain Professional can:
- provide a skilled assessment
- help figure out the actual source of the problem and if you have more than one area contributing to the problem
- develop a comprehensive plan to help the problem If your pain is lumbar-referred or radicular, you may need treatment on your back and not your hip or if you have two problem areas, both will need to be addressed within a comprehensive management plan
- recommend further tests or refer you to another specialist if the problem does not appear to be in the musculoskeletal system.
Search For A Hip Pain Professional Here.
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Does Knee Pain Can Be A Symptom Of Sciatica
Commonly these are some of the symptoms that you may experience when you have sciatica:-
Inability to bear weight on the knee
A sharp pain, warm sensation, or dull ache in the front, side and/or back of the knee
Giving/Buckling out of the knee
Weakness while extending the knee
Pain in your buttock, thigh, calf and foot may also be experienced when knee pain is a symptom of sciatica.
In most cases, knee pains are just that, nothing more.
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Sciatica Symptoms That Require Immediate Medical Attention
While your sciatica pain can be severe and cause your leg to feel weak, the symptoms typically do not produce any long-term complications.1 Rarely, if the underlying cause of your sciatica becomes severe, it may produce troubling symptoms when your spinal nerve roots and/or spinal cord get compressed, sometimes triggering a medical emergency.
The symptoms of sciatica radiate from the lower back to the buttock, thigh, and leg. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness. Watch:Sciatica Causes and Symptoms Video
Below are the descriptions of two serious sciatica symptoms that must be urgently evaluated and treated:
Does Back Pain Cause Knee Pain
As one of the most complex joints in the body, the knee allows the entire leg to move, flex, and have a good range of motion. Meanwhile, with its vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs, the back has a myriad of responsibilities it holds you physically together and secures the high-speed conduit for your complex and delicate nervous system.
Together, the knees and the back provide flexibility, motion, and support. However, they also rely on each other to maintain balance and equilibrium. Therefore, when your back hurts, so might your knees.
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Common Sciatica Cause #: Spinal Tumors
Spinal tumors are abnormal growths that are either benign or malignant . Cancerous tumors are usually metastatic, which means they have spread to the spine from cancer that had formed somewhere else in the body. Benign growths in the spine that can compress the sciatic nerve include:
- Aneurysmal bone cysts . ABCs are not tumorsas the name dictates but cysts that are filled with blood that tend to expand quickly.
- Giant cell tumors . GCTs are aggressive bone tumors that usually attack bones that are close to a joint, a potentially big problem for the spine with its 364 joints.
- Osteoid osteomas. These tumors are found in bone, tend to be small, and do not grow larger once formed. However, they can cause new, unintended bone to form in the affected area or osteoid bone to form around the tumor itself.
When a spinal tumor develops in the lumbar region, there is a risk for sciatica to develop as a result of nerve compression. Fortunately, spinal tumors are rare. If your sciatic nerve pain fails to improve with medication, physical therapy, or injections, suggest an MRI scan to your pain management expert or surgeon. It can rule out an intraspinalmeaning within the spinal canal or columncause of your pain, says Dr. Subach.
Knee Pain And Sciatica
Knee pain is often thought of as a self-contained issue. If pain is only felt in the knee, not the leg or lower back, then it is unlikely to be the result of sciatica. However, they can be closely linked.
The major factor here is that sciatica changes the way that we walk.
When we feel severe pain or weakness in one leg, we tend to shift our weight to the other. As sciatica is most likely to only affect one leg, this often becomes the case.
If we use one knee more than the other, or place more weight upon it, that knee will face a greater level of stress and wear.
Shifts in balance, gait, and posture caused by sciatica-based pain can accelerate previous, and often unnoticed, conditions within the knee.
Due to the age at which sciatica tends to affect us, we are already vulnerable from the natural deterioration and wear of the joint.
What is important to understand here is that sciatica is the symptom of problems in the back. While knee pain can be a symptom of sciatica. This interconnectedness can make it difficult to diagnose.
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Back Of Knee Pain: Bakers Cyst
If you have had a recent injury, or chronic knee pain, and you feel there is a ball behind your knee you may have a Bakers cyst.
A Bakers cyst is a fluid filled pouch that forms at the back of the knee secondary to injury to the knee joint or soft tissue. The increase in fluid produced by the knee will create the cyst which takes up space behind the knee and limits your ability to bend the knee, squat, and stand.
A Bakers cyst is commonly treated with conservative measures such as icing, wrapping, and physical therapy to help improve range of motion and function. Occasionally, the fluid in the back of the need can be drained by aspiration although it is common for the fluid to return due to the underlying pathology at the knee causing the swelling in the first place.
When Is It A Medical Emergency
Part of the problem with sciatic nerve pain is that it can obscure other more serious conditions. For instance, a recent article in World Neurosurgery indicated that lumbar radiculopathy can mask tumors growing alongside the nerve. If pain persists when palpating the cleft between the buttocks, further scans may be necessary. Any abnormal readings on those scans may indicate the presence of tumors.
As mentioned above, sciatic nerve pain symptoms can include weakness along the legs, urinary problems, and/or incontinence. These may indicate a serious medical condition, particularly if they occur suddenly. The most likely culprit would be cauda equina syndrome, a severe compression of the bundle of nerves at the end of the spine. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons notes that cauda equina syndrome most commonly results from a massive herniated disc in the lumbar region. A single excessive strain or injury may cause a herniated disc. However, disc material degenerates naturally as a person ages, and the ligaments that hold it in place begin to weaken. As this degeneration progresses, a relatively minor strain or twisting movement can cause a disc to rupture.
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Physical Problems That Cause Sciatica
Understanding the physical causes of sciatica can help you anticipate and avoid things that could trigger a flare-up of pain. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed by conditions affecting your spine. The problem is most often caused by a herniated disc, but it can develop from many conditions, such as bone spurs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and trauma.
Once the nerve is irritated and inflamed, symptoms such as pain, tingling, and numbness travel the full length of the nerve as it goes down through your buttocks and legs, and into your feet. Along the way, the nerve branches several times, providing the opportunity for pain to appear throughout your leg.
Lumbar Radiculopathy Causes Lower Extremity Sciatic Symptoms
Do you have lower back or buttock pain that runs down into one thigh or below the knee into the leg? If so, your doctor may diagnose your symptoms as sciaticaa term doctors use to describe compression of the sciatic nerve. Sensations, or unusual feelings may include numbness, tingling, pins and needles, and sometimes pain is described as electric-shock-like. Depending upon the individual nerve that is affected, pain can radiate only into the buttocks or all the way down to the foot. A common cause of sciatica and nerve compression is a lumbar disc herniation or bone spur that presses on a spinal nerve in the low back.
Sciatica pain radiates along the sciatic nerve, usually from the low back, down the buttocks, into the thigh and leg. One hallmark of classic sciatica is the pain and symptoms are felt below the knee and sometimes into the foot and great toe. Usually, sciatica only affects one side of the lower body.
Sciatica symptoms include low back and leg pain that may be described as burning or electric-shock-like. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
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What Are The Symptoms
Classic sciatic pain starts in the low back and buttocks. It affects one leg traveling down the back of the thigh, past the knee, and sometimes into the calf and foot. The pain feels worse in the leg than in the back. It may range from a mild ache to severe burning or a shooting pain. Numbness or tingling can occur in your leg and foot. This usually is not a concern unless you have weakness in your leg muscles or foot drop.
Sitting usually causes the most pain because of the weight this position puts onto the discs. Activities, such as bending or twisting, worsen the pain, whereas lying down tends to bring relief. Running or walking may actually feel better than sitting or standing for too long.
Seek medical help immediately if you have extreme leg weakness, numbness in the genital area, or loss of bladder or bowel function. These are signs of a condition called cauda equina syndrome.
Risk Factors For Sciatica
In addition to all of these potential causes of sciatica, features of your anatomy, your genetics, and your lifestyle can combine to make you more susceptible to sciatic nerve pain. Some of these sciatica risk factors can include:
- Age: Getting older increases your risk of herniated discs and degenerative disc disease which, as you now know, are two of the most common causes of sciatica
- Obesity: Carrying an unhealthy amount of extra weight stress the spine and puts more pressure on your discs, which can lead to herniation or other damage
- Jobs and activities: Some jobs are strenuous and physical, involving lots of lifting and twisting. Lifting and twisting unsafely can be big contributors to sciatica risk. Conversely, other jobs have you sitting for too long, which can also stress your discs, especially if that sitting leads to weakened core muscles and, therefore, less protection for your spine and its discs.
- Spine injury: Previous injury can weaken discs and make them more susceptible to herniation and damage.
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