Sciatica: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What Is Sciatica?

While many spine-related conditions can be tricky to diagnose, Sciatica is relatively easy to identify because it typically starts with a herniated disc in the lower back that then puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is the longest nerve in the human body, starting in the lower back, splitting to run through your hips and glutes, on down into your legs and feet. Sometimes bone spurs are the cause of the pressure or narrowing of bone around the nerve in certain areas.

What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?

The typical symptoms of a pinched nerve run down through the back of the thigh of one of your legs include numbness, tingling, aching, slight/sharp/severe pain, weakness, etc. It can manifest in or around the lower spine, glutes, hips, legs, and feet or extend the entire nerve and is usually on one side of the body. The symptoms can be momentary, last a little while, or become chronic depending on the specific cause of sciatica.

What Causes Sciatica?

Anytime the sciatic nerve is pinched or impinged in some way, this is sciatica. This can be caused by the narrowing of your lumbar spinal canal (also known as lumbar spinal stenosis) or by degenerative disc disease, arthritic conditions, slipped discs, or pregnancy. Muscle spasms are also common. Obesity, poor posture, and an inactive lifestyle are known to compound sciatic pain.

What Does Sciatica Pain Feel Like?

It depends on you and the severity of your sciatica. Some find it to be an annoying throbbing sensation in the lumbar region that radiates down the back of a leg. Some feel numbness and muscle weakness in specific areas. Some experience more serious symptoms when they sit, stand up or perform certain activities throughout their day.

How to Diagnose Sciatica?

While back pain is extremely common, sciatica starts in the lower back and can shoot down one leg to the foot and is rather distinct. Sciatic pain does not often go away on its own. Patients may choose to speak with a chiropractic physician regarding their condition. Better Health Chiropractic which has clinics in Anchorage, Wasilla, and Juneau. Our chiropractors use conversation, a simple physical examination, and perhaps imaging or conductivity tests to pinpoint the cause – whether a slipped disc, herniation, or injury.

What Are the Treatment Options for Sciatica?

At Better Health Chiropractic our clinics are outfitted with technicians and physicians ready to practice nonsurgical treatments incorporating elements of chiropractic care, physical therapy for sciatica pain, and professional sciatica massage therapy. Effective & convenient! Why see a chiropractor for sciatica? Well, for Better Health, we’ve been helping Alaskans with the root causes of sciatica since 1998 so we’re pretty well-versed and ready to help.

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How to Relieve Sciatica Pain?

Outside the chiropractic clinic or professional physical therapy, patients may find some relief within a few weeks at home by shifting their lifestyles, helpful exercises, and proper stretching. Sciatica massage is also a great option, as is using an inversion table for sciatica. Let’s not forget about taking it easy for a couple of days (especially if the sciatica is sports or fitness-related). Hot and cold packs are another sciatica home treatment to dial down the inflammation. Long-term recovery benefits most from early chiropractic care.

Sciatica Exercises

Stretching is ideal because you don’t want to risk making the nerve impingement worse, which could technically lead to nerve damage. That being said, look for local yoga or pilates classes and consider chiropractic massage and chiropractic therapies. Beyond these, ask your physical therapist or chiropractor to show you a handful of safe sciatica pain relief exercises, or a form that will best fit your condition and its placement.

Sciatica Stretches

Even the best sciatica stretches are easier to learn visually through short animated images (gifs) with full explanatory text. Before diving in head first, check out articles like “6 Stretches for Sciatica Pain Relief” from Healthline.com We’ll list them below though for reference sake:

  • Reclining Pigeon Pose
  • Sitting Pigeon Pose
  • Forward Pigeon Pose
  • Knee to Opposite Shoulder
  • Sitting Spinal Stretch
  • Standing Hamstring Stretch

Working to get rid of sciatic pain is possible.