Dr. Bell's Blog

Sciatica: What is it, and What Can Be Done...

One of the most common problems that is seen at most chiropractic offices revolves around lower back and sciatic pain.  Not only is it very common, but it can also be quite debilitating. Today I want to shed light on what some of the causes of sciatica are, and most importantly what can be done to help it.

Sciatica is best described as shooting pain in right or left leg that can range from mild to severe. This type of pain is also often described as ridiculopalthy, which is a generic term used to describe pain, numbness, or tingling that radiates down your arm or leg.

Where Does Sciatic Nerve Pain Originate?

There are five branches of nerves originating in your lower back that create the sciatic nerve. This nerve goes from your lower back, runs under your buttock, through your hip region, and ultimately down your leg all the way to your foot.  Compression of 1 or more branches of the sciatic nerve, from a variety of causes, will create radiating pain into all or part of your leg and foot.

What Are The Causes?

There are 3 main causes of sciatic pain, and they include bulging or herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and spinal subluxation (misalignment).

  • Bulging/Herniated Disc:  A bulging disc is the less severe of the two problems, but both can cause significant pressure upon spinal nerves.  The inner disc material is "contained" in a bulging disc, where in a herniated disc the inner material breaks through the outer portion of the disc.  In either case the nerve compression can lead not only to pain, but also numbness/tingling along with muscle weakness.
  • Spinal Stenosis:  This occurs when the canals that the nerve passes through becomes narrow or clogged causing nerve compression.  This happens most frequently in older adults and is typically characterized by increased pain standing/walking, and relieved by sitting down.
  • Spinal Subluxation (Misalignment):  This happens when one or more of the vertebrae in your lower back become misaligned ultimately causing nerve compression.  Subluxations happen from a variety of mental, physical, and emotional stress that is placed on our body.

What Can Be Done?

The first step towards correcting any problem is to find the cause of the problem.  In rare instances severe problems like tumors and cysts can also cause sciatica, in which case emergency action may be necessary.  However, the vast majority of the time sciatica arises from one of the 3 aforementioned causes.  Conservative, non-invasive management of the problem should always be the initial approach, and chiropractic care is a great place to start.  The goal with chiropractic care is always to reduce or eliminate nervous system interference in your spine, and maximize health and wellness.  With this goal in mind, chiropractic has a very high success rate at not only managing sciatica in patients, but in many cases eliminating it for good!  Be sure to get your spine checked by a chiropractor today to live the healthy and well life we were all designed to enjoy. You need to LIVE well, to BE well...