Sciatica: What Is It?
As our spinal cord passes through our lumbar vertebrae it divides and creates a sciatic nerve that travels down each leg. Sciatica is a painful condition in which the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or inflamed causing pain, weakness and / or other symptoms in the legs and for many patients – low back pain. The sciatic nerve can be compressed by a swollen disc, a herniated disc, arthritis or spasmed muscles. There are other more serious conditions that can irritate the sciatic nerve but thankfully they are rare.
Sciatica: Diagnosis and Treatment
Patients know when they have sciatica. In most cases, irritation of the sciatic nerve causes pain, numbness, and tingling or weakness in one or both legs. Depending on where the nerve is compressed and how much pressure is being placed on it will change the symptoms that you experience. For example, in many cases, the amount of pressure on the sciatic nerve will determine how far down your leg the symptoms travel. Depending on what part of the nerve is being pinched will affect whether or not your symptoms are felt in the front, side or back of your leg.
It is important to discover why you have sciatica because that information will help direct your treatment. Treatment for sciatica always revolves around reducing the pressure on the nerve. It has been my experience that most patients with sciatic pain assume that they have a herniated disc and that they will need surgery. 90% of the time this is not the case. Most patients make a full recovery from their sciatic pain with chiropractic care supported by stretching, icing, and exercise.
Sciatic pain is always a sign of a serious condition and should not be taken lightly. As such, successful treatment requires patience, consistency and a willingness to avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms.