What is Sciatica?

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Sciatica, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and slipped disks – you’ve heard these terms before and you might be wondering if one of them is the cause of your back pain. The next three blogs will focus on these specific spinal issues including prevention and treatment.

Many chiropractic patients believe that having a diagnosis and treatment plan is the first step to feeling empowered and eventually healthier. While some issues may be more severe, just understanding what the root cause of one’s back problems can alleviate the stress around your pain management and begin the process of helping you to recover.

Pain, numbness, tingling or weakness are among the symptoms of sciatica. So, what exactly is Sciatica?

Sciatica actually is the commonly-used name for a condition known as ‘Lumbar Radiculopathy’ which is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in your entire body, and runs all the way down from your lower back to the back of your legs, running through your hip area.

Without a proper diagnosis from  your chiropractor, how would you know if what you’re experiencing is sciatica? Well, the first giveaway is whether the symptoms are present in both sides of your body, or just one. Sciatica would only be felt on one side of your body. Minor symptoms of sciatica include a numbness or pins-and-needles feeling but more severe symptoms may include pain described as sharp and almost electrical.

Sciatica, because it’s caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, can be a temporary condition that goes away on its own after pressure on the nerve is reduced or eliminated. One of our patients experienced sciatica the first time while working a job that required a lot of driving. Her sciatica first flared a year into this work, after a long road trip in which her left leg was mostly immobile and that was the leg that experienced the sciatic numbness. Several years later, her sciatica returned during extensive landscaping work at her home where she was constantly bending up and down and ‘pinching’ the area around her left hip, where the already-sensitive sciatic nerve then became compressed again.

This patient experienced symptoms of numbness along with a dull ache, with each occurrence of her sciatica. Her visits to Rushmore Family Chiropractic focused on low back adjustments and hip openers, designed to remove pressure from that sciatic nerve and relieve the pressure. The patient is happy to report that she only occasionally experiences sciatica now, after three years of ongoing treatment with us.

Weight can be a factor in sciatica, and smoking and diabetes also may contribute.

Sciatica may not be as painful as other spinal issues, but it can affect your daily life. If you notice numbness, tingling or pain on one side of your lower body, schedule a visit with Rushmore Family Chiropractic. We will do an assessment, followed by a gentle adjustment. We may also recommend ice/heat therapy, stretching exercises or yoga, or acupuncture.