Knee Pain: Is it From My Sciatic Nerve?

Do you have knee pain? If so, you know that it can range anywhere from mild to debilitating. However, the culprit may not be your knees, it may be your back, specifically your sciatic nerve.

What’s a sciatic nerve? Your sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in your body. It extends from the lower end of the spinal cord through the legs and down to the toes, branching out at the knees. It’s about the diameter of one of your fingers, so it’s quite large. Given the size of this nerve, it’s not surprising that it can become irritated and cause pain. It has two roots in the lumbar spine and three in the sacrum, so many areas of your body can be affected.

The sciatic nerve is notorious for mimicking other ailments such as back pain. If you have both back and knee pain, then your sciatic nerve may be the culprit. Knowing this doesn’t alleviate the pain, but it provides your medical professional the information that’s necessary to properly treat and eliminate your pain.

Sciatic pain is the result of an irritated, inflamed, compressed, or pinched nerve in the lower back. Although an actual injury to the sciatic nerve isn’t common, the term sciatica refers to pain that extends from the lower back down to or through the leg. It can occur on one side or both sides, depending on the location of the pinching, compression, or whatever is irritating the sciatic nerve. Sciatic pain affects about 40 percent of people in the U.S. at some point in their life, and it may disappear without treatment or it may persist until it’s treated.

What are the Specifics of Sciatic Knee Pain?

Symptoms: If your sciatic nerve is causing your knee pain, you’ll likely experience any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Buckling of the knee when you’re standing or walking
  • Dull ache, sharp pain, paresthesia, or feeling of warmth in the knee which can be in the front, back, or the side
  • Knee lacks the ability to bear weight
  • Weakness when straightening the leg

Causes: If your sciatic nerve is contributing to your knee pain, you may also have pain in your buttocks, calf, foot, or thigh. Tight hamstring muscles – which are the muscles at the back of your thigh – can alter the normal curvature of your lower spine, which places stress on your spine. Some health issues such as spinal stenosis or a herniated disc can compress the L4 spinal nerve root and cause knee pain.

Treatments: Treatments for sciatic knee pain differ depending on the cause. However, alleviating the pressure or discomfort on the sciatic nerve is usually the starting point.

Some people are more inclined to develop sciatic knee pain than others, especially if they’re had a previous injury to their spine or lower back. Sometimes, sciatic pain occurs as part of the aging process or due to certain types of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or osteoarthritis. Those who are more sedentary or overweight may be more inclined to develop sciatic knee pain, as are those who are overweight, smoke, or have weak core muscles. No matter the cause, sciatic pain can range from mild to debilitating, so it’s important to treat the cause so that you can enjoy your life again.

Sciatic pain can develop gradually or suddenly, so you may not notice the pain immediately. If your pain occurs due to arthritis or a similar disease, then it may have a gradual onset, but if it’s caused by a sudden condition such as a herniated disc, then it may have a sudden onset.

Have Knee Pain?

If you live in the Birmingham or Hoover, Alabama areas and have knee pain, whether from sciatica or another source, and you’re ready to live life without the pain and inconvenience of knee pain, then give us a call. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, and we can help you live a pain-free life that enables you to enjoy your favorite activities. We accept CareCredit, FSA and HSA plans, as well as all major credit and debit cards.

Contact Integrative Chiropractic at 205-637-1363 to schedule a consultation or you can book an appointment online at your convenience. We’re located directly on Montgomery Highway, so we’re easy to find, and we provide chiropractic services to all of the Birmingham area. We treat scoliosis, whiplash, and other conditions as well as providing structural correction. Call us today. You’ll be glad you did.

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