The Connection Between Sciatica and Diabetes

About 10% of Americans — more than 34 million people — have diabetes. Diabetes develops when your body doesn’t produce or use insulin correctly, and your blood sugar levels become dangerously elevated. 

You’re probably wondering why a pain specialist is writing about diabetes. Well, diabetic neuropathy, a painful condition caused by nerve damage, is a common complication of diabetes. Neuropathy causes pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness, which can be very similar to sciatica symptoms. 

Dr. Navdeep Jassal, our board-certified pain management specialist here at Spine & Pain Institute of Florida in Lakeland, Florida, diagnoses and treats sciatica and neuropathy, using careful testing to determine the precise condition causing your pain. This is what he wants you to know about sciatica, neuropathy, and diabetes. 

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Neuropathy is nerve damage. When your blood sugar levels are consistently high, it causes damage throughout your body. It damages not only your nerves but also the blood vessels that feed your nerves and keep them functional. You can develop neuropathy anywhere in your body, but it often develops in your legs and feet. 

What is sciatica?

Sciatica occurs when something irritates or compresses your sciatica nerve. Your sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and splits to extend through both sides of your buttocks and down your legs. A herniated disc in your lumbar spine is one of the most common causes of sciatica.

What are the similarities between sciatica and diabetic neuropathy?

As we mentioned, the connection between sciatica and neuropathy is that they cause similar symptoms. You might have pain in your low back, hips, or legs, and numbness and tingling sensations that make it challenging to maintain your balance. It may be difficult to know what’s causing your symptoms. 

How can you tell the difference between sciatica and diabetic neuropathy?

There are a few differences in the symptoms of sciatica and diabetic neuropathy. For example, neuropathy symptoms usually begin in your feet, while sciatica starts in your lower back. Also, sciatica symptoms tend to be more severe in the morning or after a period of rest, and walking around can relieve your pain. 

Dr. Jassal also uses comprehensive testing to identify the condition causing your pain. In addition to a thorough physical exam, he uses diagnostic imaging studies, including X-rays and MRIs, to study your spine and other internal structures. He also uses electromyography and nerve conduction studies to confirm and locate nerve problems. 

What are the available treatments?

We offer personalized, multidisciplinary pain-management programs. Depending on your condition, Dr. Jassal might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy. He also provides epidural steroid injections to reduce swelling in your spine as well as radiofrequency ablation, nerve blocks, and spinal cord stimulators to stop nerve pain. 

If you have diabetic neuropathy, we can also collaborate with your primary care physician to get your diabetes under control and prevent further nerve damage. 

Give our office a call or make an appointment online today if you have symptoms of sciatica or diabetic neuropathy.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Understanding the Different Types of Arthritis

Living well with arthritis, no matter which kind you have, requires making changes to your lifestyle and following your treatment plan. With the right treatment you can win the battle against arthritis.

Treatment for Your Herniated Disc

Lower back pain can have various causes, such as a herniated disc. A pain management specialist can get to the root of your pain using effective treatment options that provide much-needed relief.

How Workers’ Compensation Works

You've probably heard that workers' compensation might cover your medical bills and lost wages if you're injured at work. But what exactly is workers' compensation, and how does it work?

I Had an Accident on the Job: What Should I Do Now?

Workplace accidents are far more common than you might think. Even with the best safety precautions, millions of Americans seek treatment for work-related injuries every year. Find out what you should do if you get hurt at work.