The term sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which runs through your lower back, into each hip and buttock, and down the legs. In most cases, sciatica will only affect one side of your body. By better understanding this condition, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can be on your way to eliminating sciatic nerve pain from your life.
What Are the Symptoms?Sciatica most commonly occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched, and this is usually a result of a herniated disk in the spine. The pinching of this nerve may also result from a bone spur, which is an overgrowth of bone that can form on the vertebrae. In rare circumstances, a tumor may compress the nerve or it can become damaged by disease like diabetes.
The trademark symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates from your lower back to your buttock and down into the back of your leg. The pain can vary, and it may feel like a mild ache, a stabbing pain, or even an electric shock. Prolonged sitting may aggravate the symptoms, and the lower back pain may become worse if you sneeze or cough.
In many cases, sciatica can be treated with self-care measures, and pain should subside within a matter of weeks. For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe certain medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotic painkillers, muscle relaxants, and tri-cyclic antidepressants. Once acute pain has improved, a rehabilitation program may be designed to help you correct the underlying issue that resulted in sciatica, such as helping you to fix your posture, improve flexibility, and strengthen your back muscles.
Chiropractic medicine is regularly used to treat sciatica, and this non-invasive, drug-free treatment option works on the principle that when spinal movement is restricted, pain and reduced function will occur. Your chiropractor may utilize spinal manipulations and adjustments, cold therapy, ultrasound, or a TENS unit as necessary to help you deal with your sciatic pain. Learn how chiropractors can treat sciatica nerve pain during pregnancy from our previous article.