Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, radiates from the lower back to the buttock and down the back of the leg. The tingling, numbness, discomfort, and weakness often associated with this condition are caused by compression of or damage to the roots of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. The sensations usually affect just one side of the lower body, but can occur on both sides. It all depends on the unique situation.
The most common reasons for sciatic nerve pain include bone spurs affecting that region of the spine, a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis, a condition in which the spinal canal is narrowed. These underlying conditions compress the sciatic nerve, leading to the painful symptoms. Less common causes include tumor growth in the affected area and chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Pregnant women are at higher risk for sciatic nerve pain; risk also increases among older adults, those who are obese, those who are very physically active at work, and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle with little exercise.
The characteristic nerve pain associated with this condition can range from a mild ache to severe burning, shooting pain. Most people find the pain worsens with prolonged standing or sitting, as well as with activities such as coughing or sneezing. When sciatica is combined with an inability to control the bowels or bladder, occurs after a traffic accident or other injury, occurs with muscle weakness, is severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living, or persists longer than a week, seek medical attention at our office as soon as possible.
In many cases, sciatic nerve pain resolves on its own within weeks. For mild cases, we may recommend self-care measures such as rest, the application of cold and heat, stretching exercises, and over-the-counter medications. For more severe cases of sciatica, it’s critical to seek medical treatment, as permanent nerve damage is a rare but serious complication. We may recommend a treatment called spinal manipulation or adjustment, or we may go with ultrasound, trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and/or ice therapy. Oftentimes, a combination approach is the most effective.
Make an appointment to visit us at La Grange Chiropractic if you’re experiencing symptoms that could indicate sciatica. Prevention of this condition involves practicing good posture, exercising regularly, and using proper ergonomics when sitting for a long time or lifting heavy objects. Contact us today to schedule an initial evaluation at our office in La Grange.