Up to 40% of people suffer from sciatica at some point. Sciatica can cause extreme discomfort in the back, and the pain may extend to the hips, legs, and feet. It results from an irritated sciatic nerve.
The longest and thickest nerve in the human nerve, the sciatic nerve, originates in your glutes. It comprises five nerve roots, three in the sacrum (last spinal section) and two in the lumbar spine (the lower back region).
Together, the sciatic nerve roots form the left and right sciatic nerves. The sciatic nerves run through either side of your hips, buttocks, and legs.
The sciatic nerve ends right below the knee, branching into other nerves from here. Therefore, it is natural to wonder whether sciatica can cause foot pain. The short answer is yes; sciatica can contribute to foot pain.
Continue reading this piece to find a more detailed answer and practical solutions for your foot discomfort.
Possible Causes of Sciatica Foot Pain
Sciatica is a painful condition characterized by excruciating pain and discomfort in the back, buttocks, legs, and feet. Sciatica pain can be moderate to severe, even restricting mobility in affected people.
Compressed, irritated, pinched, or inflamed sciatic nerve is the most common cause of the development of sciatica.
However, a slipped or herniated disc can pressure the nerve root, irritating the entire nerve. Dr. Matthew Phinney says, “It comes down to the nerve and the make-up of the sciatic nerve.”
Sciatica can cause a series of symptoms. Foot pain is a common manifestation of pinching or inflammation of your sciatic nerve. Here are a few things that might trigger excruciating pains.
Herniated lumbar disc: A disc’s inner core pushing or leaking out of the outer core characterizes herniated lumbar disc. It can put pressure on the nerve root, radiating pain on the nerve root and down the sciatic nerve. Pain and discomfort in the leg and foot are common with this condition.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: it is a lower back condition that compresses or chokes the spinal nerve roots, causing referred foot pain symptoms, such as numbness, tingling sensations, and weakness.
Spondylolisthesis: In this lower back condition, one vertebra slips over the next, comprising the particular spinal segment. It can potentially pinch the sciatic nerve, causing pain and discomfort in the hips, calf, and foot.
Symptoms of Foot Pain from Sciatica
Depending on your sciatica diagnosis, you may experience specific foot pain symptoms. Some common symptoms of foot pain caused due to sciatica are listed below.
● Foot heaviness/ foot drop
● Foot weakness
● Difficulty walking on tiptoes
● Restricted ability to heel walk
Can Sciatica Cause Pain on the Bottom of Your Foot?
Irritation of different nerve roots can lead to different sciatica symptoms. Many people experiencing foot pain caused by sciatica find it hard to walk on their tiptoes.
Essentially, the bottom of their affected foot aches, but why?
Pinching, irritation, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve’s S1 spinal root can cause pain in the bottom of your foot.
7 Ways to Get Relief from Foot Pain and Swelling
Are you experiencing foot pain and swelling due to a sciatica flare-up? Here are some approaches to use for relief.
#1. Foot Bath
Sometimes, a foot bath can be a lifesaver. You will significantly benefit from a warm foot bath if you have swelling. Simply add a cup of Epsom salts to a tub of warm water. Then, soak in your feet for at least twenty minutes. A foot bath is a quick solution to alleviate foot pain and remove the swelling.
Stretches can do wonders for sciatica patients. They should be your go-to solution for sore feet and discomfort. You can try several stretches to target pain in your entire foot or specific areas, such as the heels or bottom.
#3. Strengthening Exercises
Do you frequently experience foot pain? A sedentary lifestyle may be the cause. While you cannot eliminate foot pain without addressing the underlying cause, you can always try strengthening exercises to avoid foot pain.
Exercising can help keep your foot active, limber, and healthy. Dr. Bang says, I usually recommend increased exercise or a sitting/standing desk,”
#4. Foot Massage
Foot massages are excellent for improving circulation and getting rid of soreness. Not to mention, they can instantly bring comfort when you feel sick of constant sciatic pain. Ideally, you want to use a lubricant, such as oil, to rub and knead your foot’s bottom.
Sciatic is an inflammatory condition, but did you know it can also cause inflammation? Many sciatica patients feel inflammation in their feet and legs. Icing is excellent for reducing inflammation and contributes to soreness and pain. You could try icing your feet for five to fifteen minutes a few times during the day.
#6. Pain Killers
Over-the-counter medications can rescue you when nothing helps or you do not have the time for remedies. Pain-relieving drugs like acetaminophen can target pain, whereas you can take anti-inflammatory medicines like naproxen-sodium and ibuprofen to relieve inflammation.
#7. Topical Pain-Relieving Medication
For many people, topical pain-relieving creams and gels have better effects. If you find that applying a medicated cream or gel helps with your pain, do not hesitate to use them.
Many topical medications have pain-relieving, cooling sensations that can provide you with just the comfort you need.
Can Sciatica Cause Pain in the Heel of the Foot?
As mentioned, foot pain symptoms vary depending on the affected nerve root. Pressure or compression on the sciatic nerve’s LS-S1 spinal root can cause heel pain.
Other symptoms include segmental intervention to the leg muscles (gluteal, anterior, posterior, and lateral), posterior thigh, and uncomfortable sensations in the heel.
How to Relieve Sciatica Calf and Foot Pain
Sciatica is more like a range of symptoms than a medical condition. You can feel pain and discomfort anywhere along the nerve pathway, including the hips, legs, and feet.
Pain and uncomfortable sensations in the calf and heaviness and numbness in the foot are common symptoms of sciatica.
You can try various ways to relieve sciatica-related calf and foot pain. Some common treatment options include medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections. Treating the root cause of sciatica is a surefire way of eliminating most of your symptoms.