Sciatica is the Latin word for “Pain down the back of the leg”

The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and along the back of each leg. Sciatica is pain along this nerve and is a relatively common form of back pain.

The pain from sciatica can be anything from infrequent and irritating to severe and debilitating. Usually, it affects only one side at a time, the pain radiating through the buttock and down the leg in the leg. It may be worse when sitting. Burning or tingling down the leg, weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot or a shooting pain may also occour.

While sciatica can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, it is rare that permanent nerve damage (tissue damage) results. Most pain is due to inflammation and will improve within a period of time. Nerve pain is caused by a combination of pressure and inflammation on the nerve root. Chiropractic treatment is aimed relieving both of these conditions.

Typically, sciatica is made worse by bending, lifting, sneezing and coughing.

Sciatica is a common problem for manual workers, sedentary office workers or those with chronic degeneration in lumbar spine. It is also particularly prevalent during pregnancy.

Chiropractic Treatment main objectives are

  • reduce pain

  • restore joint function and movement

  • strengthen weakened muscles

  • reduce tension

Causes of Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the main nerve in the leg and the largest in the body. It runs from the base of the spine, along the back of the thigh to the knee, where it divides into branches.

Sciatic pain is usually caused by compression of this nerve root at the point where it leaves the spine. Damage to the nerve can also cause pain.

In young and early middle-aged adults, the most common cause of sciatica is a prolapsed intervertebral disc in the lumbosacral area of the lower back.

In older people, changes in the spine due to conditions such as osteoarthritis may be responsible either by causing localised pressure on the nerve or by narrowing of the spinal canal – called spinal stenosis. Other bone disease or local injury may also be responsible.

Pressure on the sciatic nerve can result from a number of reasons including

  • Spinal misalignments, vertebral dysfunction

  • Piriformis syndrome (tightness of the piriformis muscle in the buttock that compresses the sciatic nerve)

  • herniated disc

  • Poor posture – wearing high heels, prolonged sitting, poor mattress

  • Poor lifting technique and poor bending habits

  • Spinal compressions due to osteoporosis

Diagnosis of Sciatica

Since there are many disorders that can cause sciatica, your Chiropractors’ first task is to determine the exact cause of your sciatic nerve interference.

Chiropractic treatment

  • Always begins with a thorough history,

  • Spinal, orthopaedic and neurological examination.

  • Special diagnostic imaging investigations such as X-ray, CT, MRI

Treatment of Sciatica

As sciatica is due to pressure on the sciatic nerve, it stands to reason that treatment involves relieving this pressure. Your Chiropractic treatment aims to achieve this by reducing nerve pressure caused by poorly moving spinal joints as well as easing muscular tension in the lower spine, buttock and leg.

This is achieved by using a combination of the following techniques:

  • Spinal adjustments and mobilisation

  • Stretching tight muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments

  • Advice in relation to how to minimise pressure and irritation of the sciatic nerve

For further information, or to arrange an appointment with one of our skilled Chiropractors please call us on (02) 6921 2820.

Kate Granger