Understanding Sciatica

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What is sciatica? Pronounced “si-at-i-ca”. This is a common complaint I see every day and unfortunately, it’s duration may go on for months. Sciatica is mostly any nerve pain that travels or radiates down the buttocks into the thigh, leg or foot. It may wrap around the front of the thigh or the anterior leg as well. The sciatic nerve is actually composed of three sets of nerves which originate at the L4 nerve root in the lumbar spine to the S3 nerve root in the sacrum which combine to form one big nerve.

The sciatic nerve then travels down through the sciatic notch in the pelvis, goes underneath the piriformis muscle in your buttocks and then branches out to different parts of the thigh, leg and foot. If the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve are compromised at one or more levels in the spine or muscularly in the buttocks the pain can be quite uncomfortable. The piriformis muscle goes between the sacrum and femur so typically those of us who sit quite a lot will often have spasm of the piriformis which aggravates or is aggravated by the sciatic nerve.
Typically, those with a lot of arthritis or degeneration of the lumbar spine, lumbar disc degeneration or if there is lumbar stenosis, sciatica is a common condition. It may be necessary to resort to a Medrol cortisone pack or have invasive procedures performed such as cortisone injections or surgery for especially difficult cases, but chiropractic adjustments can go a long way in helping to avoid those procedures and get you back to your active lifestyle with minimal downtime.

Sciatica can be challenging to treat but I have had a lot of success over the years helping to minimize symptoms and educating patients on proper lifestyle habits, stretches, strengthening exercises, sleeping positions and getting adjustments regularly. If you are diligent about this regimen, the incidence of flare-ups is reduced, and the benefit is that your lower back will improve in flexibility and strength as a result of doing these strengthening exercises and stretches regularly.


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