The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and is formed by the union of 5 nerve roots from the lower spine. It passes deep in the buttock and down the back of the thigh all the way to the heel and sole of the foot. The sciatic nerve serves a vital role in connecting the spinal cord with the skin and muscles of the thigh, leg, and foot.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a term used to describe nerve pain in the leg that is caused by irritation and/or compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica originates in the lower back, radiates deep into the buttock, and travels down the leg.
The symptoms of sciatica are commonly felt along the path of the large sciatic nerve. Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following features:
- Pain. Sciatica pain is typically felt like a constant burning sensation or a shooting pain starting in the lower back or buttock and radiating down the front or back of the thigh and leg and/or feet.
- Numbness. Sciatica pain may be accompanied by numbness in the back of the leg. Sometimes, tingling and/or weakness may also be present.
- One-sided symptoms. Sciatica typically affects one leg. The condition often results in a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg.1 Rarely, both legs may be affected together.
- Posture induced symptoms. Sciatica symptoms may feel worse while sitting, trying to stand up, bending the spine forward, twisting the spine, lying down, and/or while coughing. The symptoms may be relieved by walking or applying a heat pack over the rear pelvic region.
How can Chiropractic help Sciatic conditions?
Typically sciatica is due from a long history of injuries and/or repetitive stress which causes a intervertebral disc to be herniated, a malposition of a vertebrae, or a hypertonic (tight) muscle that irritates the sciatic nerve. Chiropractors have been trained to take a comprehensive assessment in order to detect and correct these specific etiologies, thus alleviating compression on the sciatic nerve.