Symptoms of Sciatica: What is Sciatica?

symptoms of sciaticaHave you ever strained your back so badly that even walking is unbearable?

I’m not talking about just regular back pain that lasts a few days…

What I’m referring to is when you have not simply a backache but radiating leg pain too.

Then, it’s quite possible, you have done some serious damage and have a pinched sciatic nerve.

My First Symptoms of Sciatica

what is sciatica

Look, I make it no secret that I try to be a tough guy when it comes to back pain.

But, on one occasion, even my tough guy mentality wouldn’t survive this type of torture.

In May 2014, I was using a two-man post hole digger to build a raised garden box.

After a half dozen times of starting the motor by the pulley, I felt an unusual pop in my low back.

I wouldn’t have been concerned, but this sensation was more than a mere sound.

A bolt of electricity fired down my left leg.

symptoms of sciatica

For a second, I thought I hit a live wire ever so briefly.

Discarding the thought, I pushed through the pain and finished the job.

Fast forward a week and a half later and the pain was excruciating.

I can handle back pain, but this wasn’t simply my spine.

The backside of my left leg from my butt to my heel felt like it was being pulled apart.

It felt like I did a 1,000-pound deadlift on one leg (trust me, I have never done that nor tried)…

And every waking moment, I felt this radiating leg pain grow by the day.

The back and leg pain were enough to take the wind out of me and make me want to finally do something I hated to do…

See a doctor.

The Doctor, Research & Prognosis

how to relieve sciatica pain at homeI went to see my doctor and he immediately ordered an MRI

Or magnetic resonance imaging.

Within a few days,  I was diagnosed as having a herniated disc at the L5-S1

With the disc protrusion pinching the left sciatic nerve.

No amount of x-rays could have detected this issue since it was more than a skeletal problem.

The doctor prescribed me:

  1. Pain pills as needed for up to 3-5 times per day
  2. Anti-seizure medication to reduce the nerve inflammation
  3. And physical therapy 3 times per week for 1 hour each session

back pain treatment

After nearly a year of no resolution, my doctor opted to use epidural steroid injections (ESIs) on my low back.


Though the ESIs worked, they became less effective with each round.

By the time the fourth round injections came, the ESI merely aggravated my condition.

So, I went to the extreme and asked about surgery.

What is Sciatica?

what is sciaticaSciatica is when the sciatic nerve is pinched or squeezed.

The sciatic nerve originates from the spinal cord and comes out of the lumbar area (lower back).

When the sciatic nerve is pinched, it creates a pain that shoots down the affected side.

So, if the nerve is pressed on the left side, then the left leg will feel the symptoms.

In the most severe cases, pain can be felt in BOTH legs.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve include but are not limited to:

  • Unusual weakness or numbness in one leg
  • Radiating leg pain
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Relief comes when lying down
  • Pain occurs primarily when standing or sitting
  • Low back pain that if experienced at all is not as severe as the leg pain
  • A pins-and-needles feeling in one leg
  • A sharp or searing pain as opposed to a dull ache or tightness

Laminotomy – Surgery for Sciatica Relief

back surgery alternativesMy orthopedic doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon to see if I was a candidate for back surgery.

I was immediately accepted and within weeks was put on the surgeon’s table.

The procedure done was a laminotomy.

Essentially, it is where:

  1. A small hole is cut in the vertebrae (bone)
  2. The sciatic nerve is moved out of the way
  3. The disc herniation is cut off
  4. The nerve put back in its spot
  5. I’m sewn up
  6. And grueling physical therapy begins

This was by far the worst part of the whole process.

I was literally helpless for the first week or so.

BUT, I did feel instant relief on my leg upon waking from surgery.

Now, my back…was a whole different story.

Alternatives to Back Surgery

physical therapy for sciaticaSadly, I was in pain for SO long that I was willing to do anything for even a minute of back and leg pain relief.

Now that I’m on the other side of things and even reinjured my back…

I know there are alternatives to back surgery.

A few alternatives include:

  1. Holistic and herbal remedies for relief – yeah, believe it or not, there are some herbs that help far better than pharmaceutical drugs. And the best part is that herbs have NO side effects.
  2. Decompression therapy – after my second run of sciatica, I discovered this non-invasive procedure. I can swear by this therapy and would go to this anytime I have sciatic issues again.
  3. Core-specific exercises – sticking to a good core routine helps keep my sciatica symptoms at bay. I haven’t had ANY sciatic issues in nearly a decade.

Another alternative for back pain relief I discuss is at:

Final Word on Sciatica Treatment

best sciatica treatmentI feel like my experience with sciatica came at a great cost…

One which I hope you don’t have to pay.

If I were to recommend in order of importance:

  1. Seek medical attention – don’t tough it out, it’s just not worth it. Besides you could do greater damage to yourself if you go it alone.
  2. Try the alternatives BEFORE surgery. Surgery should only be the last ditch effort and remember the long-term success rate is NOT in your favor.
  3. Take notes – if and when you get physical therapy, make sure you get as much information as you can for injury prevention and core strengthening exercises. This is PARAMOUNT for your long-term quality of life.
  4. Put in the work when prescribed. If they tell you to do it, then stick to it. If you have issues, be open about them with your healthcare provider.

I hope this helps!

In the event, you have any questions about my personal experience…

Please feel free to email me at

Be well,


References & Recommended Reading:


This blog post proposes recommendations and all readers should consult a qualified medical professional before starting this or any other health & fitness program. The author of this blog post disclaims any liabilities or losses in connection with the exercises or advice herein. The reader waives the blog writer and recommended article writers of all liabilities and wrongdoings.