Sciatica Overview: Description, Causes, and Eddy Family Chiropractic's Treatment Plan
What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to a condition that occurs when a nerve in the lower back - the sciatic nerve - becomes pinched or compressed where it exits the spine. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body with two branches that extend from the lower spine all the way down each leg. When the nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness, tingling and burning sensations anywhere along the nerve pathway, from the lower back through the buttocks, hips and legs. Symptoms of sciatica can range from mild to severe, sometimes becoming pervasive enough to interfere with daily activities and sleep.
What causes sciatic nerve compression?
Most commonly, the sciatic nerve is compressed by a herniated disc that slips out of its normal position in the lower back. Usually, discs remain situated between each pair of spine bones (vertebrae), providing a cushion that protects the spine from jolts and shocks while also promoting flexibility in the back.
If a disc becomes misaligned or herniated, it can press on the sciatic nerve, causing it to become compressed. Other conditions that can cause sciatic nerve compression include arthritis, spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal), spondylolisthesis (a condition where one spine bone slips forward over another), osteoporosis and tumors. Traumatic injury can also result in sciatica, and being overweight or spending long times sitting or standing can exacerbate the symptoms and also increase the risk of developing sciatica.
How does Eddy Family Chiropractic treat sciatica?
Sciatica treatment begins with a hands-on evaluation of the lower spine combined with a patient history and a review of symptoms. Sometimes, diagnostic imaging will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis or to determine the cause of nerve compression.
In most cases, sciatica can be relieved with spinal adjustments to realign the spine and enable “slipped” discs to resume their normal positions. Therapeutic massage and exercises can help reduce inflammation and speed healing while also strengthening the lower back to prevent uneven strain on the spine and avoid recurrence of symptoms. Routine adjustments can be especially helpful in patients with chronic low back pain.