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What Is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest, widest nerve in the body. It begins on both sides of the body at the lower back in the lumbar spine and stretches across the buttocks and down the hip and leg, where it ends at the top of the foot. Any injury or damage along this nerve can cause excruciating pain.

We’ve all heard of the word “sciatica” and it (usually) is loosely used to describe everything from low back pain arising from the joints in the back, from the sacroiliac joint, from the muscles of the low back, and even from a pinched nerve caused by a ruptured disk. Strictly speaking, the term “sciatica” should ONLY be used when the sciatic nerve is pinched.  Sciatica is caused when an issue causes impingement or compression of your sciatic nerve.

Descriptions of the pain experienced with sciatica vary widely. Sciatica nerve pain can be described anywhere from burning to cramping. It can be infrequent and annoying to constant and excruciating. Exacerbating factors may include prolonged sitting, coughing, or sneezing. There is almost never any permanent sciatic nerve damage.

Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Pain on one side of the body
  • Pain that radiates down the back, across the buttocks and hips, and into legs
  • Pins and needles in the extremities
  • Numbness or tingling anywhere along the nerve
  • Burning sensations along the nerve
  • Pain that increases when sitting or standing for extended periods of time
  • Tightness in the calf or backs of the thighs

If any of the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve are compressed, irritated, and/or inflamed, it will generate the signs and/or symptoms of sciatica.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica has a variety of possible etiologies. The most common cause is a herniated disc in the lumbar region of the spine. The gel-like contents of the disc leak out, or herniate, causing irritation of the sciatic nerve root. Other names for a herniated disc include slipped disc, bulging disc, ruptured disc, and protruding disc. A thorough medical history and physical examination with imaging studies (X-ray, MRI, or CT scan) provide the diagnosis in most patients.

Most patients respond to conservative non-surgical measures. Heat or cold therapy alleviates symptoms for some.  Your health care provider will prescribe strengthening and stretching exercises. Strengthening core muscles goes a long way in treating and preventing future episodes of sciatica. Low impact aerobic exercises for sciatica such as walking and swimming are especially helpful.  Prevention of sciatica involves regular exercise, proper posture, and good body mechanics.

Choosing chiropractic care can help you find pain relief and may even save you money. Let’s learn more about what chiropractic care is, what chiropractors do, and what conditions are treated.

Picture taken from WebMD

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a form of complementary and alternative medicine.  Chiropractic is the third largest health profession, behind medicine and dentistry. Further, most insurance carriers cover chiropractic expenses. 

Chiropractic care is focused on the assessment and treatment of pain symptoms of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Many people regard the chiropractic profession as a leader in terms of providing a non-invasive treatment option to improve patient outcomes.  Chiropractic care is a safe alternative treatment for many types of pain conditions, especially those that originate in the musculoskeletal system.

The primary goal of chiropractic care is to improve patient outcomes by providing cost-effective and safe treatment for the relief of debilitating pain symptoms. Research has found that chiropractic care has the following benefits, compared to conventional treatment options:

  • Decrease in medication use.
  • Quicker patient recovery times
  • Less patient disability
  • Significant improvement in pain symptoms
  • Significant improvement in physical activity tolerance

Why Are Sciatica Stretches So Important?

Your sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It originates from the lumbar, or lower, spine and runs through the buttocks and down both legs. Because it is so long, if you are experiencing sciatica, you may experience pain and symptoms along the entire length of the nerve.  Yoga for sciatica is an effective alternative to medication, here are 10 yoga poses for sciatica.

Although these are some of the best sciatica stretches for pain relief, it is crucial to talk with your doctor before performing any of them. It’s also important to listen to your body as you stretch. Sharp, stabbing pain or a stretch that increases pain may not be safe for you. Back off when it feels unsafe.

Your treatment plan should be tailored to your underlying condition, the severity of your pain, other medical concerns, and overall health. 

There are some yoga poses to avoid when experiencing sciatica. Standing forward bends put too much pressure on the lower back, and seated forward bends should be gentle and performed with the knees bent.  Yoga may not cure sciatica, but research shows that it can relieve pain and improve your mood. 

For sciatic pain during pregnancy, avoid yoga poses that place pressure on the belly. This includes deep twists or poses done on the belly.

Sourced from: ChiroTrust and Pain Doctor, WebMD

The information is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

It is for informational purposes only.