Every year, more than 3 million people in the United States are affected by this widespread illness. Sciatica is a type of nerve pain that starts in the spine and runs down the back of the leg. Sciatica pain may be terrible and devastating for many people, making standing or sitting difficult or impossible.
The longest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve is actually a bundle of five nerves that exit from the lumbar spine and sacral foramen. These nerves group together at the piriformis muscle in the buttocks to form the one large sciatic nerve, which then travels down the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve provides strength and sensation to the legs and connects major muscles with the spinal cord. An impairment or issue with the sciatic nerve can cause muscle weakness, numbness, and pain.
Often misunderstood, sciatica is not the cause of the irritation at the nerve root, rather it is a set of symptoms. Some of the conditions that cause sciatic pain:
As the body ages, the risk increases for sciatic nerve issues due to age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated discs and bone spurs. (Another important reason why continuous and preventative chiropractic care is essential to spinal and overall health.) Obesity also can increase risk, as excess weight can contribute to spinal changes. Diabetes increases the risk of nerve damage and is another risk factor for sciatica. Other lifestyle factors such as occupation and prolonged sitting can play a role in the development of sciatica.
Whenever possible, opt for conservative treatments over more invasive and drastic measures, such as surgery. Chiropractic care and adjustments are viable options for treating the pain and symptoms associated with sciatic nerve issues. A 2006 study published in Spine found that manipulations (adjustments) helped relieve pain due to acute back pain and sciatica. Another study published in 2010 found that sixty percent of sciatica patients (who hadn’t found relief from other therapies) experienced the same level of relief from chiropractic adjustments as patients who eventually had surgery.
Make an appointment to talk to a chiropractic doctor about chiropractic and sciatica.