When Is Sciatica A Medical Emergency?

sciatica medical emergency

For the majority of people, sciatic pain is caused by a disc herniation in the low back. There may be other causes such as degenerative disc disease, SI joint dysfunction, and piriformis syndrome, but for the most part a herniated disc is usually the culprit.

The symptoms felt with sciatica include sharp pain that travels from the low back or pelvis to the legs and feet. You may also feel numbness and tingling.

What you want to look out for are 2 symptoms in a rare condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome, which is caused by compression of a bundle of nerves called the Cauda Equina, which control functions of the pelvis and legs.

Again, this is also most commonly caused by a large disc herniation.

What you want to look for is the following:

1. Incontinence and Retention

Incontinence means that you lose control of your bowel or bladder so you may urinate or defecate without control.

Retention means that you’re unable to excrete urine or feces, again due to loss of control.

2. Saddle Anesthesia

Saddle anesthesia is an extreme sensation of numbness in the area of the inner thighs, genitals, anus, and buttocks (the areas in contact if you were sitting on a saddle).

If you have any of these 2 red flags, it is super important that you go to the emergency room to get checked out immediately.

If left untreated, this can cause permanent nerve damage.

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