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.
The typical symptoms of a pinched nerve down through the back of the thigh of one of your legs – numbness, tingling, aching, slight/sharp/severe pain, weakness, etc. It can manifest in/around the lower spine, glutes, hips, legs, and feet or extend the entire nerve and 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.
Anytime the sciatic nerve is pinched or impinged in some way, that’s sciatica. This can be caused by the narrowing of your lumbar spinal canal (also known as lumbar spinal stenosis). Or, degenerative disc disease, arthritic conditions, slipped discs, muscle spasms are also common as is pregnancy. Things like obesity, poor posture, and a sedentary lifestyle just compound the issues.
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/week.
Back pain is extremely common, wow, but sciatica starts in the lower back and can shoot down one leg to the foot which is really distinct. If it doesn’t go away on its own, most folks then either head to their general practitioner or a chiropractor like Better Health which has clinics in Anchorage, Wasilla, and Juneau. Our chiropractors then use conversation, a simple physical examination, and perhaps imaging or conductivity tests to pinpoint the cause – whether a slipped disc, herniation, or injury.
At Better Health chiropractic our clinics are outfitted with the tech/personal to practice nonsurgical treatments incorporating elements of chiropractic care, physical therapy for sciatica pain, and professional sciatica massage therapy. Effective & convenient! Why 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, as are other experienced chiropractors.
Outside the chiropractic clinic or professional physical therapy, the majority of people can find relief within weeks at home on their own through shifting their lifestyles, and getting into the habit of exercising and 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 days (especially if the sciatica is sports or fitness-related). Hot and cold packs are another sciatica home treatment to dial down the inflammation.
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, invest in some chiropractic massage, biofeedback, acupuncture, etc. Beyond these, ask your physical therapist or chiropractor to show you a handful of safe sciatica pain relief exercises, or the form for your favorite exercises when dealing with it.
We wish we possessed the writing-wizardry to properly describe a few of the best sciatica stretches, but unfortunately we pale in comparison to a 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: