If you have chronic sciatica, it is likely that your family and close friends have heard this term often as you speak. While sciatica is common, many people have never experienced it, are not aware of the symptoms, and don’t know why it occurs.
Explaining the details of this common type of nerve pain can help them understand your condition as well as be informed about the symptoms in case they experience it.
Here are some tips to help you talk about your experience and in turn educate others on what they need to know about sciatica.
Use specific examples to describe your sciatica symptoms
Describing your sciatica pain as terrible or awful may not convey the full impact of what you’re experiencing, as a terrible pain can also occur when someone hits their little toe against a chair.
When you describe your sciatica symptoms, use expressions such as:
- Electric shock-like pain from the lower back into the leg
- Warm sensation in the thigh and leg
- Burning pain in the calf
- Heaviness and/or numbness in one leg while walking
- Areas of pins-and-needles sensation in the buttock and legs
Relating your feeling to something a loved one has personally experienced or can easily visualize will allow you to provide them with an opportunity to better empathize and understand the severity of your sciatica.
Read more about Sciatica Symptoms
Discuss the potential underlying causes of sciatica
It’s a good idea to let your family and friends know that sciatica is caused by an underlying medical condition and is not a medical diagnosis. Several underlying conditions can cause sciatica, such as a herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis. 1 Davis D, Vasudevan A. Sciatica. [Updated 2019 Nov 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507908/
Depending on your specific underlying cause, let them know how a nerve root in your lower back is being irritated or pinched, causing radiating pain to travel down your leg.
Read more about Sciatica Causes
Explain that there is no easy fix
Friends and family who care about you, want you to get better—which means they may do their own research relating to chronic sciatica, and in turn suggest a ‘miracle’ cure for your symptoms.
To help your loved ones better understand the emotional impact of chronic sciatica, it is important to explain that there is no easy fix to your problem. Sciatica treatment often involves a process of trial and error that includes some combination of oral medications, physical therapy, ergonomic posture changes, heat and cold therapy, and/or epidural steroid injections. In rare cases, surgery may also be recommended. 1 Davis D, Vasudevan A. Sciatica. [Updated 2019 Nov 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507908/
Read more about Sciatica Treatment
While describing your chronic sciatica to friends and family can sometimes be emotionally exhausting, it is worth the effort if you can help someone learn and identify the symptoms for themselves or find a sympathetic traveling companion on your chronic pain journey.