What is Sciatica?
The Mayo Clinic defines Sciatica as follows:
“Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve — which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk or a bone spur on the spine compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.”
What Causes It?
The Cleveland Clinic provides some very helpful information.
“Sciatica is a symptom. It consists of leg pain, which might feel like a bad leg cramp, or it can be excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. The pain might be worse when you sit, sneeze, or cough. Sciatica can occur suddenly or it can develop gradually. You might also feel weakness, numbness, or a burning or tingling (“pins and needles”) sensation down your leg, possibly even in your toes. Less common symptoms might include the inability to bend your knee or move your foot and toes.”
They go on to state that “sciatica might be a symptom of a ‘pinched nerve’ affecting one or more of the lower spinal nerves. The nerve might be pinched inside or outside of the spinal canal as it passes into the leg.”
Finally, the experts provide a list of conditions that can cause sciatica:
-A herniated or slipped disc that causes pressure on a nerve root (the most common cause of sciatica)
-Piriformis syndrome (develops when the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that lies deep in the buttocks, becomes tight or spasms, which can put pressure on and irritate the sciatic nerve)
-Spinal stenosis (condition that results from narrowing of the spinal canal with pressure on the nerves)
-Spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebra so that it is out of line with the one above it, narrowing the opening through which the nerve exits)
According to the Mayo Clinic, most cases resolve with just conservative treatments in a few weeks although the pain associated with sciatica can be severe. They suggest that “people who continue to have severe sciatica after six weeks of treatment might be helped by surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve.” However, spinal decompression therapy may provide relief as well.
Be sure to consult with a local Charleston chiropractor or physician for more information about your condition and whether this form of decompression treatment can help you. You can also watch the following video for some stretching exercises to help with your sciatica pain: