Can Sciatica Pain Switch Sides?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 28, 2015

sciatica back pain

Sciatica pain is a common condition that we have discussed several times before on this site. This post is in response to a reader question about whether or not sciatica pain can “switch sides” suddenly or over time. In this article we will talk about sciatica pain and answer the question: “can sciatica pain switch sides?”

Sciatica & Back Pain

Before we dive right in to this question, let’s briefly review sciatica itself so we can better understand the condition. Sciatica is a condition in which a patient experiences pain along the sciatic nerve – which originates in the spine and runs from the low back through the hips, and down each leg. Whenever the sciatic nerve is compressed by a herniated spinal disc, bone spur, spinal stenosis, or acute injury, the patient may experience pain, numbness, and loss of feeling in their low back, hips, buttocks, and down each leg.

Sciatica Pain Switching Sides

So is it possible for sciatica pain to switch from the left of your body to the right (or vice versa)? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is a bit more complicated.

The sciatic nerve (and all nerves for that matter) is incredibly complex. Nerve issues vary wildly depending on the patient. In other words, if both patients have a herniated disc in the low back, they may experience very different symptoms. One patient may have extreme pain in the back and legs, while the other patient may feel a slight tingling sensation with no pain.

In addition, pain from a nerve tends to change over time. Many patients who have spinal nerve pain experience an increase in pain over time until it gets to be too much to bear. Sometimes nerve pain can be intense one moment, and nonexistent the next. A similar thing can happen with sciatica – the symptoms can vary over time. You may feel pain in your right leg one day, and find that the pain has migrated to the right leg later on.

Whatever the case, sciatica pain should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to avoid severe and permanent complications. If you are experiencing sciatica-related conditions, contact a spine specialist for treatment.

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