Can sciatica cause knee pain? Well, yes, it can. Sciatica is a characteristic pain sensation that is caused by sciatic nerve damage or compression. The sciatic nerve roots are in the lower back region and run from there down to the feet.
It is an irritated sciatic nerve that causes sciatica symptoms or pain in the sciatic nerve. You may experience sharp pain around the knee.
Continue reading to learn more about knee pain from sciatica and why knee pain from other causes may feel like sciatica.
Signs that your Spine Causes Knee Pain
You may have spinal nerve roots contributing to your knee pain if it is not caused by common knee-related causes. Here are some checkpoints that can determine if your lower back is involved in knee pain.
1. Knee Pain Along with Back Pain
If you live a sedentary life and experiencing both knee pain and back pain, it strongly suggests some underlying issues with your lower back. Long periods of sitting can damage your disks, resulting in bulging disks that irritate the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica.
The sciatic nerve connects the spinal cord with the knee and leg, so if it is pinched, the pain will travel from the lower back to the knee. Does sciatica cause knee pain in this case? Definitely YES!
2. Weakness in Hips
In addition to regulating your leg and knee joints, your hip joint can bear most of your weight. Similarly, your quads muscles, located opposite to your thigh, control the extension of your knees and hip movements.
Spinal nerves control movement in your quads, so if their motor functions are affected, you may experience a weakness in your hips and quads.
The weakness will affect knee joints, making them work harder, which causes them to exhaust, causing pain.
Common Knee Pain Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused by medical conditions. A herniated disk, nerve roots, joints, or muscles are also affected in these conditions, such as piriformis syndrome.
The knee pain symptoms you may experience with sciatica include:
- Feeling of warm sensation in front, back, and side of the knee.
- Regular knee-buckling.
- Knee weakness while straightening your leg
- Sharp pains.
- The affected knee cannot take the weight.
You may also experience hip, buttocks, thigh, leg, or foot pain in addition to knee pain. As with sciatica, one leg is affected at a time, so you will also experience knee pain.
How Can Sciatica Cause Knee Pain?
1. L4 Radiculopathy
The compression of the sciatic nerve in the L4 spinal nerve root is a likely factor for your knee symptoms. An irritated or compressed sciatic nerve can lead to radiating pain from the spine to the knee as a result of medical conditions such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
2. Tight Hamstrings
Your hamstrings are located at the back of your thighs. Sometimes, your hamstrings may tighten, putting pressure (through exercises you can’t do in sciatic disorder) on your spinal joints. Sciatica may result from these changes, which can lead to pain radiating from the lower back to the knee and leg.
Knee Pain That Feel Like Sciatica
Your knee pain may feel like sciatica, but underlying causes may differ from that of sciatica. Here are few such conditions.
1. L3 Radiculopathy
The compression of the lumbar spine L3 nerve root may lead to knee pain. This compression may be the result of a herniated lumbar disc. Your thigh, hip, and groin may also experience pain. The L3 nerve root compression may mimic the symptoms of sciatica.
2. Patellofemoral stress syndrome
Patellofemoral stress syndrome – also known as runner’s knee- is a condition that may cause burning or shooting pain around the kneecap. In this condition, your kneecap abnormally rubs on the thigh bone resulting in a burning sensation, which may feel like sciatica.
Treatments of Sciatica Linked Knee Pain
If your knee pain is because of sciatica, the treatment will focus on the sciatic nerve pain. The recommended steps to relieve the knee pain include:
1. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can help alleviate sciatica knee pain. Consult your physiotherapist to devise a program according to your requirements.
This treatment involves exercises to carry out in warm water. Warm water exertion effectively relieves pain, increases blood circulation, makes muscles strong, and improves their functions.
3. Manipulation and Mobilization
A joint is physically affected by manipulation and mobilization. The individual should be relaxed for this technique to work.
Physiotherapists move joints that patients can’t move because of pain. As a result of this joint mobilization, function and range of movement are increased, while pain and stiffness are reduced.
4. Realignment of Posture
Your posture will be significantly improved if you sit properly with sciatica and stand correctly. By strengthening weak muscles and relaxing tight ones, you can improve your posture.
Can knee pain transform into leg pain?
If the knee pain is the outcome of sciatica, then you may feel the pain in one of your legs.
What is the Diagnosis of Sciatica in the Knee?
An MRI can confirm whether the knee pain is because of the sciatic nerve or bone-related issues. However, consult your doctor for suitable diagnosis & treatment.
The knee pain can be because of a sudden injury or some medical condition. An accurate diagnosis of the underlying disease can help to relieve it.
Knee pain can be caused by sciatica, but how can sciatica cause knee pain? Your sciatic nerve surrounds the muscles around your knees, causing pain if the nerve is pinched. In some cases, lower back nerves can be responsible for knee pain with compression or irritation of the L4 sciatic nerve root.
It is important not to confuse the sciatica knee pain with the runner’s knee. Stay in touch with your doctor and physiotherapist to manage this disease.