Sciatica is pain that occurs anywhere along the sciatic nerve, but it commonly begins in your lower back and radiates down your leg. It usually occurs on one side of your body. Nerves originate in your brain and go down the center of your spine, branching out from between each vertebra to reach all areas of your body. The sciatic nerve branches out at the base of the spine then go through each side of your buttocks and down each leg.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
Pain is the primary symptom, although it varies from a general ache to a pain that’s sharp, burning, or excruciating. Numbness or tingling often develop in the affected leg or foot. You may also experience muscle weakness in your leg, or commonly in the foot.
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica develops when the sciatic nerve is compressed by vertebrae or a muscle. In rare cases, the nerve may be damaged by a disease like diabetic neuropathy. The most common causes include:
- Herniated disc
- Muscle spasm near the nerve
- Misaligned vertebrae
- Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis)
- Bone spurs
- Pinched nerve caused by injury
Are you at risk of developing sciatica?
You’re more likely to get sciatica as you get older, as pressure on your lower back over time causes degeneration and herniated discs. Other factors can also increase your risk by putting extra pressure on the lower spine, such as being overweight, prolonged sitting, and jobs that require heavy lifting.
How is sciatica treated?
The team at MultiCare Medical Group provide diverse chiropractic techniques and manual therapies that effectively relieve sciatica pain and promote your body’s natural ability to heal. Your treatment plan may include one or more of the following:
- Spinal adjustment or manipulation: Spinal manipulation realigns the spine, which puts vertebrae in their proper position, takes pressure off the sciatic nerve, and restores mobility.
- Spinal decompression: This therapy gently stretches the spine, relieving compression of the sciatic nerve.
- Therapeutic massage: Trigger point therapy eliminates muscles knots and spasms, which alleviates sciatica pain if muscles are the cause of the problem. Other types of massage help relax muscles and boost circulation.
- Rehabilitative exercise: This therapy includes structured exercise to strengthen and stretch muscles and exercises that reduce pressure on the nerve to relieve pain.