Sciatica and What To Do About It
Sciatica is a word that gets thrown around a lot in my line of work. Patients range from self-diagnosing with it, being wrongly diagnosed with it and well, actually having it! But what is it? And if you truly do have it…what do you do next?
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and is actually made up of 5 nerve roots. They come together to form this thick and long nerve that controls the entire lower limb.
Sciatica is when this nerve is irritated, inflamed, pinched or compressed. This can happen with things like a disc herniation, DDD, spinal stenosis, arthritis, or piriformis syndrome. True injury is rare.
Sciatica appear can appear with or without back pain, with the leg pain typically being worse than back pain if its present. Other symptoms can also be numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. Most patients describe the pain as sharp, shooting, burning or electric. It can come and go, or be constant, depending on the severity of the impact on the nerve. A sudden movement like a cough or sneeze can also increase pain.
This condition can become chronic, and typically develops overtime unless there is some trauma. Some things that can make you more likely to develop this condition include a previous injury, being overweight, a weak core, a physical job, bad biomechanics, diabetes, smoking, osteoarthritis or generally being inactive. Pregnant women can also suffer sciatica as their body shifts with growing baby.
Good news is sciatica is treatable!
In the chiropractic office, we work to correct biomechanics, loosen tight muscles and make sure joints are moving correctly. The combination of these will look different depending on your sciatica cause. Integrating massage, acupuncture, diet and osteopathy can also help to reduce pain and address the underlying conditions.
One large component of treating sciatica is exercises. Classically, I will give lower body stretches as well as core strengthen.
Some specific things I’ll show patients are breathing exercises, nerve flossing, Z lie, and piriformis stretches. Want more details? Check out the video here