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Sacral nerve damage symptoms

Updated April 17, 2017

Commonly referred to as "sciatica," sacral nerve damage is a treatable and preventable ailment. The sacral region is located at the bottom part of the spine between the fifth lumbar segment and the tail bone. The sacrum is a canal that has four openings through which the blood vessels and nerves run. A serious fall or accident resulting in fracture, hysterectomy or other surgery, childbirth, osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis can cause damage to the sacral nerves, resulting in serious symptoms.

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Shooting, burning or stabbing pain can occur when the sacral nerves are damaged. This pain sometimes occurs on only one side of the body. Damage to sacral nerves can result in pain that runs from your buttocks to your thighs. For some, the pain is persistent, while for others, it comes and goes. The pain can be aggravated by sustained periods of standing or sitting.

Muscle Weakness and Numbness

If you have sacral nerve damage, you may experience weakness in your leg and/or foot. You may have a feeling of a lack of strength in the muscles, or even numbness. It's possible to have a combination of weakness and numbness in one leg, where one part of your leg feels weak and another part numb or tingly, as if asleep.


Sacral nerve damage can result in a lack of bladder or bowel control. Often referred to as Cauda Equina syndrome, this is a symptom that requires serious medical attention. Compression or inflammation of the nerve roots can cause you to lose control of urination or bowel movements, or feel the need to urinate frequently.


You can prevent sacral nerve damage or a recurrence of sacral nerve damage by exercising regularly to improve overall physical health. Using proper posture when standing or sitting is imperative to preventing all kinds of spine pain, including sciatica. Choosing a high-quality mattress will also help, because it will properly support and align your spine.


There are many courses of treatment for sacral nerve damage, depending on the root of the problem. Physiotherapy can help to rehabilitate the back and legs and also prevent future recurrences. Anti-inflammatory medication or muscle relaxants may also be prescribed to help an individual manage the pain. Epidural steroid injections can be used to suppress the inflammation of the damaged sacral nerves and provide short-term relief. For sustained weakness, pain or incontinence, surgery may be necessary.

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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Annie Wang has been writing since 2008. Her work has appeared in World Architecture News and other online publications. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and art history from the University of California, Davis.

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