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Posted on 06-16-2017

What is “Sciatica”? 

Female stretching to alleviate pain from sciatica

Usually patients come into our chiropractic clinic in Mississauga clinic attributing the term “sciatica” to a painful sensation that travels down their leg. To be more specific, this sensation derives from compression of the SCIATIC NERVE. Compression of this nerve can lead to severe, debilitating pain starting from the lower back region and down into the leg. Common presentation is usually on one side, and is often aggravated with prolonged standing or sitting. Patients often have to watch how they walk or spend most of their time lying down in order to relieve the severe pain. The sensation is usually a sharp shooting pain or a burning sensation that travels down their leg and can reach the toes. This is often associated with a pins and needles sensation as well as weakness of the same leg. As a part of the nervous system, your sciatic nerve is responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to its destinations, and can’t do so properly when it is being compressed. 

What causes Sciatica? 

Sciatica is a symptom of a much bigger problem. The sciatic nerve root is made up of 2 nerve roots that exit the lumbar spine (lower back) combined with 3 nerve roots that exit the spine in the sacral area (sit bone/tailbone). These bundles come together and form the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the human body. From this the sciatic nerve and its branches travel down the back of your thigh, behind the calf muscles and into your foot. The symptoms are usually due to a compression of the nerve due the following issues
  • Herniated/Bulging disc – when the spinal disc loses its natural integrity, it resorts to bulging or herniating and takes up surrounding space. This is often caused by a subluxation (misalignment) in the spine. This takes up the space of the nerve roots traveling out the spine and compresses the sciatic nerve at its origin. This is often associated with ongoing lower back pain as well.
  • Disc degeneration – one of the main functions of the spinal disc is to not only absorb shock that comes through the spine, but to also provide space for nerves to travel out of the spine. It does so by maintaining a normal disc height. When the disc goes through ongoing wear and tear, it leads to a shortened disc, and over time arthritic or degenerative changes occur. The disc is unable to regain its normal height and bone spurs accumulate on the spine due to the associated instability. This leaves even less room for the nerve to function and can inhibit the sciatic nerve at its origin, leading to pain. This can also lead to episodes of associated low back pain, but also associated stiffness in the joints.
  • Piriformis Syndrome – spasms in the buttock muscles, most specifically the piriformis muscle, can cause nerve compression further down the course of the nerve. This is not a true form of sciatica, but can mimic similar symptoms to true sciatic problems. 

How does Chiropractic help? 

Consulting with a chiropractor about this condition is very important, as this can lead to further problems, such as long-term chronic pain. Your Mississauga Chiropractors are well equipped to understand the main cause of your sciatic symptoms and how to properly take care of it. No matter what the cause is, chiropractic adjustments have proven to be an effective method for relief of these symptoms. Spinal adjustments will help with any of the above mentioned sources of sciatic pain, generally to provide a more balanced internal environment to promote proper healing.
It is important that you get to the source of the issue, before it leads to long-term problems in the future. If you have any concerns or questions about Sciatica, do not hesitate to contact us at (905)821-4951. 

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