1. Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg.
2. A hallmark sign of sciatica is pain that runs from the low back, into the buttock and down the back of the leg to the calf. Sometimes the pain is predominantly felt just in the buttock or leg.
3. The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. Sometimes it can feel like a jolt or electric shock.
4. Some people also have numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot.
5. Usually only one side of the body is affected.
6. The sciatic nerve can be irritated, inflamed or compressed due to a number of reasons.
Common causes of sciatica include:
- a prolapsed or herniated disc
- spinal degeneration or arthritis
- a misalignment or subluxation in the lower spine irritating the root of the nerve
- pelvic misalignment tightening the gluteal muscles where the sciatic nerve passes through
7. Risk factors for sciatica include:
- excessive weight
- prolonged sitting
- aging / degenerative changes
8. Prolonged sciatica can lead to nerve damage and can cause the calf muscle to deteriorate. Weakened bladder function can even occur.
9. Immediate medical care is required if ever the sciatica is accompanied by a full loss of bowel or bladder control, or the pain becomes severe and progressively worse.
10. It is NOT recommended to wait until the pain becomes unbearable before seeking help. Waiting can cause long term damage.
Chiropractors are highly trained professionals who know how to care for the spine and nerve system. They should definitely be considered as the first point of contact.