Patricia Holl, Chiropractor

Have you ever had a ‘burning sensation down the back of your leg? Perhaps you’ve experienced some numbness or tingling in your feet and toes? If so, you may have symptoms of ‘Sciatica’. Sciatica is a condition caused by compression, irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which is both the longest and largest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve is made up of five smaller nerve roots which extend from the lower portion of the spine near the pelvis and join together to branch out on both sides of the body traveling down each leg. It then divides into smaller nerves which drape into the thighs, knees, legs and toes.

Individuals suffering from sciatica may experience an assortment of symptoms. It generally manifests as a distracting pain originating in the low back or buttocks, and involves symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning, cramping and an achy soreness which can appear anywhere along the sciatic nerve path. Pain may be constant or intermittent. For some, the pain can be an intense “shooting pain,” firing down one or both legs. Others may experience only a dull ache or numbness traveling into the back of the thighs.

Since the roots of the sciatic nerve emanate from the low back, any compromised structure in the low back can impose pressure on these nerve roots. While sciatica is often the result of spinal misalignment or bulging discs, other disorders known to cause sciatic nerve pain include inflammation, degeneration, or spinal canal stenosis, a condition in which the canal housing the spinal cord becomes narrowed.

Sciatica can also occur as a result of faulty postural mechanics such as driving for prolonged periods of time or spending excessive time in a seated position in front of the computer. Additionally, insufficient stretching and exercise, heavy lifting, bending, twisting or inappropriate sleeping patterns can contribute to this condition. Sciatica has also been linked to a variety of non-mechanical conditions such as arthritis, tumors, vitamin deficiencies and even diabetes.

The good news is that most cases of sciatica can be treated successfully. Because of its diverse causes, treatment for sciatica differs from patient to patient, and varies according to the cause and severity. Sciatica can usually be managed effectively with chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, acupuncture and massage therapy, in addition to modifying activities. The main goal in the treatment of sciatica is to decrease pain, increase mobility and restore normal functioning.

Whatever the cause, it is important to seek treatment swiftly to avoid long-term damage. See your healthcare professional when the pain first begins. Our bodies never stop communicating with us. Listen closely, and revitalize your health.