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Understanding Sciatica: What it is and Common Symptoms

Understanding Sciatica: Sciatica is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It refers to the pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. This nerve starts from the lower back and runs down through the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet.

Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or compression on the sciatic nerve, causing inflammation and pain. The pain can vary in intensity, from mild to severe, and may be accompanied by other symptoms. In this article, we’ll discuss what sciatica is and the common symptoms associated with it and explore some of the treatment options available.

What exactly is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down to the legs and feet. The condition occurs when there is pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing irritation of the nerve, which caused pain and discomfort to radiate in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. It may also be accompanied by pins and needles, numbness, and tingling.

Sciatica is usually caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or other spinal conditions that put pressure on the nerve. In rare cases, it can be caused by tumors, infections, or injuries to the nerve. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what sciatica is and what causes it -Understanding Sciatica.

What are Common Sciatica Symptoms?

Sciatica is a condition that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe pain. The symptoms of sciatica can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the precise location where the compression on the sciatic nerve develops. There are also anatomical differences between individuals -Understanding Sciatica.

One anatomical difference that relates to sciatica is the fact there are six different configurations in which the sciatic nerve can be wired in the body. This can influence how symptoms are experienced. Most people (87%) have a sciatic nerve which passes behind and under the piriformis known as type I.

The next most common configuration known as Type II (13%) is where half of the sciatic nerve runs underneath the piriformis (deep glutes) whilst the other half runs through the piriformis after which they join together a bit further down. The other 4 variations (Type III, IV, V, VI) are so rare they occur only in less than 1% of the population -Understanding Sciatica.

The most common symptoms of sciatica typically include pain in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected area. The pain can be sharp, shooting, or dull, and may be worse when sitting or standing for long periods.

Sciatica that lasts for more than 8 weeks is considered chronic. If you or a loved one falls into this category, seek medical and chiropractic intervention at the earliest to avoid potential nerve damage.

Emergency Sciatica Symptoms

If you or a loved one are experiencing intolerable sciatica type pain accompanied with loss of bladder or bowel control please contact the emergency services immediately and/or visit the nearest hospital’s A&E.

Should you experience pain in the sciatic nerve that is felt on both sides with symptoms of weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse you may have cauda equina syndrome. Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency and may cause numbness around or under your genitals, or around your anus -Understanding Sciatica.

If you suspect that you or someone in your family displays these symptoms it’s important to get to a hospital or emergency services at the earliest opportunity. “Most surgeons recommend decompression as soon as possible, within about 8 hours of the onset of symptoms if symptoms develop suddenly.” according to

Sciatica: What does it Feel like?

Sciatica feels like a sharp, shooting pain that runs down one leg or both legs. The pain can range from mild to severe and can also feel like a burning or tingling sensation. In some cases, sciatic related pain can also cause numbness or weakness in the affected leg or foot. The pain can be constant or intermittent, and it may be more severe when you are sitting or standing for long periods or when you cough or sneeze.

What Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain are there?

There are two types of sciatic nerve pain: radicular pain and referred pain.

Radicular pain

Is the most common type of sciatic pain and is caused by the compression of a nerve root in the lower back.

Referred pain

Is caused by irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerve itself. This type of pain can be felt in the lower back, buttocks, and legs, and may be more difficult to localize -Understanding Sciatica.

How can you know if you have Sciatica?

If you are experiencing pain that starts in your lower back and runs down one or both legs, it is possible that you have sciatica. Other common symptoms of sciatica include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected leg or foot.

If your sciatica pain is predominantly in the buttock and leg but not accompanied by lower back pain, you may suffer from piriformis syndrome instead of sciatica. Hence the importance of a clear diagnosis so that you can receive the correct physical therapies in the form of sciatica treatments or piriformis treatments to achieve effective pain and chronic pain relief.

To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor or family chiropractor may order imaging tests such as an X-ray (If clinically justified) or an MRI. A physical exam and a review of your medical history will also help your doctor determine if you have sciatica.

What Sciatica Solutions Are there?

There are several sciatica care options to consider, including exercise-based rehabilitation, chiropractic care, massage therapy, as well as more traditional medical treatments like medications and surgery -Understanding Sciatica.

Whilst some forms of therapy are better than others at providing immediate relief of sciatica the goal should be to achieve permanent and long-term relief and recovery. The healing journey for sciatica sufferers is a marathon not a sprint.

Temporary relief can be deceptive as pain levels, symptoms and physical sensations may not correspond or correlate to measurable improvements as the body takes time to recover and integrate the changes.

Each treatment option has its own benefits and potential risks, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each approach and choose the treatment that’s best for you.

Physical therapies such as chiropractic care, osteopathy and soft tissue manipulation are all great non-invasive forms of treatment to consider. A qualified physical therapist can also prescribe specific stretching exercises and lower back, glute and core strengthening exercises to improve core stability for enhanced protection and support of the lumbar spine.

At Healing Hands Chiropractic we recognise the value of a multi-disciplinary approach which is the reason why we combine soft tissue techniques, trigger point release, chiropractic adjustments, spinal traction, corrective stretches and exercises as well as ergonomic advice and overall health guidance -Understanding Sciatica.

Chiropractic works by aligning the spine and optimising the neuromusculoskeletal system (NMSK) to improve the quantity and quality of movement, brain body communication, and overall health and vitality. It can be used on its own or in combination with existing forms of manual therapies and treatment to support, enhance and accelerate the healing process.

Three things to consider when evaluating sciatica care options

Safety and effectiveness

When considering a treatment option for sciatica, it’s important to consider both its safety and effectiveness. Make sure to research the treatment thoroughly and consult with a medical professional or your family chiropractor to ensure it is a safe and effective option for your individual case.

Long-term vs short-term relief

Some treatments may provide immediate relief for sciatica pain, short-term relief from sciatica or longer-lasting relief. Consider your individual needs and goals when choosing a treatment option aimed at relieving nerve compression. Longterm sustainable relief is best -Understanding Sciatica.

Personal preferences

Everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Consider your personal preferences, such as your comfort level with certain types of treatments (e.g. surgery vs chiropractic care), what has worked well for you in the past, and choose a treatment option that aligns with those preferences.

Sciatica and Back Pain Surgeries

The chronic phase of sciatica, known as the last stages of sciatica, is characterized by more severe symptoms, including muscle weakness and difficulty moving the affected leg. It is important to seek medical attention for this condition, as it may lead to nerve damage if left untreated.

Effective treatments for sciatica include chiropractic care, physiotherapy, and other conservative measures. These can help manage symptoms and promote healing, preventing long-term nerve damage. If you are experiencing the last stages mentioned, it is important to seek medical attention to address your symptoms and prevent further complications.

In some cases, surgery may be recommended to treat sciatica and other types of back pain. The type of surgery will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Some common surgeries include laminectomy, discectomy, and spinal fusion.

Before considering surgery, which comes with its own risk factors, assuming your condition is noncritical, explore natural and physical noninvasive therapy first. Spinal surgery should be carefully considered by weighing up the pros and cons as it’s going to cause a permanent structural change which may lead to unintended consequences, such as the need for further surgery at a later stage.

Chiropractic a safe and effective Solution

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective solution for many cases of sciatica and back pain. Chiropractors use non-invasive techniques to realign the spine, alleviate leg pain, and nerve root pain by manually relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Chiropractic treatement may include spinal adjustments, massage therapy, and corrective as well as a mild low impact stretches and corrective exercise programs. Chiropractic care also emphasizes overall health and wellness, with a focus on lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Many people find that chiropractic care not only relieves their sciatica and back pain symptoms, but also improves their overall quality of life.

Sciatica Care Options Conclusion

In conclusion, sciatica can be a debilitating condition that significantly affects your quality of life. Fortunately, there are a variety of care options available to help manage the pain and symptoms associated with sciatica. When considering treatment solutions, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional who can help you determine the best course of action for your individual needs.

Whether you choose to pursue chiropractic care, massage therapy, exercise rehabilitation, or surgery, it’s essential to take an active role in your treatment plan. By working closely with your healthcare provider, following a comprehensive treatment plan, and making lifestyle changes as necessary, you can successfully manage your sciatica and improve your overall wellbeing.

To experience sciatica relief in 8 minutes or less we have created an instructional video demonstrating sciatica exercises. To achieve long term improvement some form of treatment is typically required. The sciatica exercise video shows ways to help sciatica leg weakness recovery and alleviate pain feelings naturally, whilst increasing mobility. Please start slowly and use an ice pack on the affected area afterward if necessary.

Get your Clear Sciatica Root Cause Diagnosis

If you’re experiencing symptoms of sciatica, it’s crucial to get a clear diagnosis of the root cause. Without a proper diagnosis, it’s challenging to develop an effective treatment plan that addresses the underlying issue. Consulting with a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or other healthcare provider can help you get a clear diagnosis and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your sciatica.

Remember that managing sciatica is not a one-size-fits-all approach. By working closely with your healthcare provider, you can develop a customized treatment plan that meets your individual needs and helps you achieve long-term relief from your symptoms. Don’t wait any longer to seek treatment for your sciatica – take the first step towards better health and wellbeing today by booking your first visit at Healing Hands Chiropractic!