What is Sciatica?

SciaticaWhen someone has Sciatica, it means that the nerve that travels all the way from your low back to your foot is being irritated.  And because the Sciatic nerveis such a long nerve, the symptoms can be felt all the way in the hip, buttock, leg, calf or foot and can make walking, standing, sitting or even lying down almost unbearable.  Most people assume that Sciatica itself is the problem, but the truth is that it is just a symptom of another condition.

Symptoms of Sciatica    

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, which begins from nerve roots in the lumbar spinal cord in the low back and extends through the buttock area to send nerve endings down the lower limb.  This is why pain of sciatica is also sometimes referred to as sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatica is often associated with lower back pain, but it can also be present without the lower back pain.  Sometimes the symptoms of sciatica are intensified when you sit, cough, sneeze, walk or bend at the waist and can be partially or completely relieved by lying down.  Sciatica symptoms include pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg.  It is most commonly accompanied by numbness, tingling and muscle weakness with the severity of the pain varying from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort.  Generally, the pain starts gradually and intensifies over time.

Causes of Sciatica

While sciatica is most commonly a result of a lumbar disc herniation directly pressing on the nerve, it is actually a sign that you have an underlying problem putting pressure on a nerve in your lower back.  The most common cause of this nerve compression is a herniated disc.   Another common cause of sciatica is Piriformis syndrome, where the piriformis muscle that lies directly over the sciatic nerve becomes tight or if you have a spasm in this muscle, it puts pressure directly on the sciatic nerve.

  1. Herniated disc – this is the most common cause of sciatica, caused by pressure on the nerve and this compression, or ‘pinching’ gives rise to the pain.
  2. Vertebral subluxations- occurs when one or more of the vertebrae that make up the spinal column have functional problems. Any dysfunction can cause stretch and irritation of these nerves, interfere with their normal function and the signals they carry.
  3. Piriformis syndrome– when the piriformis muscle, situated in the buttocks, is ‘tight’ or goes into spasm, it can compress the Sciatic nerve.
  4. Degenerative disc disease – for some people one or more degenerated discs in the lower back can also irritate a nerve root and cause sciatica.

Chiropractic Care for Sciatica

If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider and find out if the Chiropractic approach is the right choice for you. Sciatic pain can be relieved through a combination of stretches, deep tissue massage of the piriformis muscle and chiropractic care.  Chiropractic care can bring faster, longer lasting relief from the painful symptoms of Sciatica.  Treatment is based on the fundamental principle that pain and impaired function will resultif there is restriction within the spinal column, where it aims to provide safe, non-invasive, drug-free intervention to restore balance and to help the body to heal itself.

Chiropractic treatment options work on correcting misaligned or out of place vertebrae and can remove the pressure placed on the sciatic nerve; thus, reducing pain and improving flexibility and function.  Chiropractors make sure that they get to the root of the problem – what is irritating the sciatic nerve – and not just deal with the symptoms.


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