How to Describe Your Chronic Sciatica to Friends and Family

No matter how long you’ve dealt with chronic sciatica, it can still be challenging to find the right words to adequately describe your symptoms. Your friends and family may want to help, but they don’t always understand what you’re going through.

Learn more: Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatic pain can radiate into your leg, buttock, and foot. Learn more: Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica

Here are some tips to help you talk about your experience in a way that sparks a positive connection with those who care about you.

Use common experiences to describe sciatica symptoms

When experiencing chronic pain, we often describe it with terms like “terrible” or “awful.” Other times we might pick a number on a scale from 1 to 10.

Both approaches have their place, but it’s helpful to describe how you’re feeling in relation to common experiences because most people have never struggled with the physical and emotional effects of chronic sciatica.

See What You Need to Know About Sciatica

Here are some examples:

  • "My leg feels like I am standing in freezing water."
  • "The pain in my calf feels like a throbbing toothache."
  • "The sensation in my foot feels like it is asleep, combined with a sharp muscle cramp."
  • "The discomfort in my buttock feels like pins and needles or an electric shock."
  • "The weakness in my leg feels like I was in a boat for several hours and just stepped on dry land."
  • "My loneliness or isolation feels like it’s the first day of school and I don’t know anybody."

See Leg Pain and Numbness: What Might These Symptoms Mean?

Not all cases of chronic sciatica are similar, so if these examples aren’t relevant to you try brainstorming other common experiences that mimic how you’re feeling.

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Bring a loved one to your next medical appointment

The shared experience of a medical appointment can help friends and family better understand and sympathize with your chronic sciatica for several reasons:

  • Most medical professionals are skilled at describing symptoms
  • A description of your symptoms from an authoritative source can validate what you’re going through
  • Loved ones will see how hard you’re working to get back to your old self

See Pain Management Specialists and Sciatica Treatment

Assume friends and family mean well

The lack of visible chronic sciatica symptoms can lead to a variety of frustrating experiences:

  • A family member declares you've made a full recovery following a high-functioning day
  • A friend announces they have found a “miracle” cure for your sciatica symptoms
  • A loved one mistakes your happy demeanor for a lack of pain or discomfort

See Chronic Pain Coping Techniques - Pain Management

Taking the time to help a loved one better understand your chronic sciatica will make it more likely that you’ll avoid these frustrating experiences. You might also find that the road is easier with a sympathetic traveling companion.

Learn more:

Sciatica Causes

Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain

Post written by Andrew Moeller