Is this sciatica, or what?
November 13, 2015 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Intermittent slight tingling / numbness on outside of calf and foot. NO pain. At all. Is this sciatica or what?

I know, YANAD etc.etc. I promise to go see a real doctor if it gets worse.

Right now I just have this very mild tingling and slight numbness on the outside of my calf and part or all of my foot (same side). I have no pain anywhere. No loss of motor function or weakness. The tingling comes and goes at various times throughout the day, and lasts maybe 10-30 seconds at a time. The numbness is more like a slight loss of sensation, never completely numb. I have not been able to determine a specific movement or posture that triggers the symptoms.

Is this typical of sciatica? I thought sciatica always involved pain somewhere between the lower back and foot.
posted by geeky to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I get this from a herniated disc at L5. It is worse when I am inactive.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I was diagnosed with sciatica it was a pain deep in my butt (seriously) that radiated down the back of my leg, some numb/tingling if I stretched too much. So I vote "or what."
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

could be a pile of things. could be anything that damages nerves.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:31 PM on November 13, 2015

My experience of sciatica is constant, intense, burning, sweet Jesus kill me now pain. But I had surgery to free the sciatic nerve from the herniated disc that was pressing on it and it did leave me with some permanent light numbness on the outside of my calf, so it could be related to your sciatic nerve. I still get bouts of sciatica, though nowhere near as often as I did, and I've never experienced it without pain. IANAD so this is only my clumsy way of saying "maybe" but maybe more likely "or what".
posted by billiebee at 12:34 PM on November 13, 2015

I have this as a souvenir of a discectomy at L5-S1. It's not painful like sciatica, just a weird nerve sensation. Sometimes it feels like tingling. Sometimes I think my dog's whiskers are brushing my leg, but when I look down he's not there. And sometimes it feels exactly like I spilled water down my leg. Sciatica, for me anyway, is more like a horrible, relentless toothache deep inside your ass and going down your leg.
posted by HotToddy at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2015

You might try googling neuropathy and see if that fits your symptoms.
posted by elmay at 1:06 PM on November 13, 2015

I would guess that it's not sciatica which is described as radiating pain. It is probably
Neuropathy but that begs the question of what caused the neuropathy.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:17 PM on November 13, 2015

Yeah, I hate when people say, "see a doctor" to every question about a weird physical symptom, but this could be a range of things and seems worth just asking a health care provider to review what the possible causes might be in your case, if it continues.
posted by latkes at 1:42 PM on November 13, 2015

If you have new shoes, give them one more week, if it doesn't go away, toss them regardless. I had horrible knee pain one entire summer and was ready to see a specialist when, it went away. The next spring when it warmed up I took out this pair of Mushroms slings I wore the summer before. Before I could get across the room the pain was back full on. I took them off and put them in the garbage. I really hated doing that with some New Balance running shoes when my ankle went out. In both cases it was comfortable footwear, with some different angle that caused pain.
posted by Oyéah at 2:14 PM on November 13, 2015

I'm a massage therapist. Not a doctor and can't diagnose anything, yadda yadda. This doesn't sound like sciatica. While sciatica sometimes can cause pain and/or tingling in the calf and foot, I've never heard of it starting there. It would start in your lower back or butt and travel down your leg, possibly as far as your foot.

It does sound nervy, though. I'm guessing you are compressing or irritating a nerve somewhere but I don't know which one. I took a look at a poster of the nervous system (yiu can find such images online) and tried to see which nerve ennervates the area where you're experiencing symptoms; maybe the superficial peroneal nerve? Perhaps the peroneal muscles are tense. Have you tried massage?
posted by mysterious_stranger at 2:26 PM on November 13, 2015

You guys are confirming what I sort of suspected - not likely to be sciatica without pain. It definitely seems nerve related though.

No new shoes. In fact, I've worn at least 3 different pairs of shoes this week (none new) with no change in symptoms.

Re: the "or what" - I did have calf pain (same leg) last week that felt like a pulled muscle, though for the life of me I can't think of how I would have done that. mysterious_stranger might be on to something there with the tight peroneal muscles maybe compressing something. Haven't tried massage yet, but I can give my foam roller a go.

I will continue to monitor it and if things don't improve, I will definitely call to make an appointment (which will probably immediately cure me, because isn't that how it always works?)
posted by geeky at 3:00 PM on November 13, 2015

I get this and it is caused by the position in which I sit.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:27 PM on November 13, 2015

I had infrequent calf pain that felt like a pulled muscle. It turned out to be nerve pain caused by a herniated disc. I would get it checked out.
posted by riddley at 2:58 AM on November 14, 2015

I had something similar although a little higher. For me it was a bulging disc, and the tingling and numbness tended to come on during periods of standing and after carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder.

If that's what you've got, it's fixable. A physiotherapist gave me some excruciatingly painful massages and some stretches to do at home, and I haven't had it happen again in months and months.
posted by escapepod at 5:04 AM on November 14, 2015

A small follow up: saw the doctor, who diagnosed SI joint inflammation. I did, in fact, develop back pain a few days after writing this question (a week or two after the tingling and calf pain). So to answer my own question, this is similar to sciatica but falls under "or what" category ;)
posted by geeky at 12:32 PM on January 12, 2016

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