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Young woman with pain in her lower backSciatica is defined as pain or discomfort associated with the sciatic nerve. Originating from the low back and running from the hip/pelvis area down the back of each leg, through to the lower legs and feet, the sciatic nerve is the main nerve that supplies the smaller nerves of the lower body – similar to tributaries flowing off the main river. Together, these nerves provide the feeling or sensation as well as control the movement of the lower limbs.

Causes of Sciatica

So, what causes sciatica? Anytime there is any kind of irritation of the sciatic nerve, it can create pain. This can include the pressure, stretching, rubbing, etc. of the nerves caused by a subluxation. And if a subluxation is not treated properly it can lead to one of the most common causes of sciatica which is a disc bulge, herniation or prolapse (often incorrectly referred to as a slipped disc). This can create pressure on the sciatic or other related nerves and even the spinal cord itself- pain is the resulting symptom. Another way the sciatic nerve can become irritated is degeneration of the lumbar spine discs, which can be caused by long-term subluxation or a past traumatic injury. Other, less common, causes of sciatica include infection or tumors.

Being overweight and pregnancy can also lead to sciatica symptoms developing due to the extra stresses placed on the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints. Essentially any injury or process which causes compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause sciatic pain. Even simple things like a belt that is too tight, or sitting on your wallet can be enough to elicit the pain associated with sciatica.

Sciatica causes a feeling of sudden, sharp or burning pain that usually travels from the low back or buttocks down one or both legs. This usually occurs as you make a sharp movement, such as getting up suddenly from a seated position. The pain is fairly distinctive in that it feels something like a mild electric shock running down the back of the leg. This can often be accompanied by tingling, numbness and weakness of the muscle in the affected leg, foot or toes.

How to Deal With Sciatica

Fortunately, with chiropractic care, sciatica is generally able to be treated relatively simply. Although you may want to avoid lifting heavy objects and bending certain ways, moderate physical activity can be good. This has taken the place of the historically prescribed “bed rest”, which has actually been shown to exacerbate the problem. Many modern schools of thought now accept that moderate activity can help reduce the inflammation around the sciatic nerve in some cases. This, in turn, tends to assist in the recovery.

Chiropractic care may be effective both for immediate pain relief and for long-term management in many cases of sciatica. Sciatica has traditionally been a misunderstood condition in the public’s mind. If you have any doubts or questions, we recommend you get checked by your chiropractor.

Schluter Chiropractic works on the principle of reducing interference so the nervous system and body can work better. Providing that any symptom or condition (including pain) is occurring as a result of nerve interference from vertebral subluxation, there is a very good chance that it will improve with chiropractic care.