The Sciatic Nerve and Your Back
Lower back pain or pain that travels any distance down your leg is likely related to the sciatic nerve (aka sciatic n.). These nerves (one for each leg) are formed by a merging of the nerve roots that exit from the five vertebrae that shape your lower back. The sciatic nerve is responsible for transmitting all the information from your brain to each leg and likewise from your leg up to your brain.
If you happen to drop a weight on your foot, this is the nerve that relays the painful sensation from your leg to your brain. In the scenario from the last sentence, it is the sciatic nerve that also carries the nervous impulse from your brain down to your leg allowing you to pull your injured foot away from the weight.
Sciatica and the Sciatic Nerve
Unless it becomes a source of pain, we normally don’t think about our sciatic nerve. When this nerve does get pinched, the result is a painful condition that is commonly called sciatica. Sciatica is a set of symptoms that are associated with compression of the sciatic n. Sciatica can present itself as lower back pain, hip pain, thigh pain, knee pain, calf pain or pain that is felt from the low back all the way down to the toes. Sciatica can be caused by either sudden traumatic injury or sustained stress on the back over a prolonged period of time. Examples would include a fall that results in compression of the sciatic n. or an injury to a construction worker who has to bend and lift heavy objects day in and day out over a prolonged period of time.
The sciatic nerve can be compressed by a misaligned vertebra, tight, spasmed muscles, inflamed spinal joints and a bulging (herniated) disc. Chiropractic treatment for sciatic nerve problems is exceptionally helpful when combined with the right stretches and adequate rest.