Sciatica is the name given to any pain stemming from the irritation of the sciatic nerve. Anything that irritates this nerve can cause pain that ranges from mild to severe; usually, from a compressed nerve root in the lumbar (lower) spine. Often, the term “sciatica” is confused with general back pain. However, sciatica is not just limited to the back. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. When this large nerve becomes inflamed, the condition is called sciatica, and the pain can be intense.
The pain may follow the path of the nerve. It runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs, ending just below the knee. Sometimes, it can continue down to your ankle, foot and toes as well as radiate to your back. This nerve controls muscles in the buttocks, thighs and legs and allows that area to be sensitive to touch. Sciatica is not, in fact, a condition, but rather a symptom of another problem involving the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is most often a symptom of neural irritation in the back and hips.
Causes of Sciatica
- Disc bulges, protrusion and herniation
- Arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative arthritis
- Injury/trauma to the spine and pelvic-hip region
- Car crashes
- Piriformis syndrome
- Spondlolethesis/spondylolysis – a condition in which the vertebrae may slip forward over the vertebra below it, irritating the exiting nerves/nerve
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – an impingement of the exiting nerves in the lower back
- Poor posture
- Leg length discrepancy
- Flat feet
- Tumors in the spine may compress the root of the sciatic nerve
- Infection in the spine
- Neurogenic claudication – leg pain as a result of damage to the spinal nerves that go to the legs. The sufferer can’t walk for long periods of time and has to make more frequent stops.
- Cauda equina syndrome – a rare, but serious condition that affects the nerves on the lower part of the spinal cord.
- The main symptom of sciatica is a shooting pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve – from the lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of either leg (usually only one leg is affected.) This pain can range from mild soreness to a sharp pain to severe continuous discomfort and may be aggravated if you sit or stand for long periods.
- Numbness in the leg along the nerve; occasionally, this numbness in one part of the leg may be accompanied by pain in a different part of the leg
- Tingling sensation (pins and needles) in the feet and toes
- Heat sensation
- Giving out of the leg from the hip or knee down
- Constant throbbing that may or may not let up for hours or even days
- Cramping sensation
After examination, diagnosis and the determination of the source of your sciatica, Dr. Levi will recommend an aggressive treatment to relieve the irritation to the sciatic nerve. This is then followed by rehabilitation of the affected structures through effective, evidenced-based, gentle and proven methods.
If you suffer from sciatica, regardless of the cause, we can help. Chiropractic care has been proven and researched to bring relief, and, in most cases, cure sciatica by finding and treating the cause.