What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is referred to nerve pain that is experienced in the lower back, buttocks, legs and sometimes in the feet. This is often caused by irritation and/or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from pelvis, through the hip area and buttocks and down to each leg.

Symptoms of Sciatica

Symptoms are experienced along the sciatic nerve. For some, the sciatic pain can be infrequent and irritating, but for others, it can be severe and debilitating. Please seek immediate medical attention if you have weakness/numbness in your upper thighs and/or loss of bladder/bowel control. You may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain – Sciatic pain typically feels like a burning sensation or shooting pain. It begins in the lower back/buttocks and travels down the legs to the feet over-time.
  • Numbness – You may feel numbness down the leg like a tingling sensation or weakness in the legs.
Diagram showing the cause of sciatica due to a herniated or bulging disc
  • Pain in one leg – Often you will experience pain in only one leg, causing that leg to feel heavy. For instance, a herniated disc may compress the sciatic nerve only on one side of the body.

Pain may feel worse whilst trying to stand up, sitting, bending spine forwards, twisting the spine, lying down or when you cough.

Causes of Sciatica

A number of reasons can cause sciatica, but the following points are the most common causes:

  • Herniated lumbar disc – This causes the majority of sciatica cases. The herniated/bulging disc compresses the sciatic nerve, causing pain and irritation.
A diagram of a normal spinal disc and a herniated spinal disc
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis – Particularly common in people over the age of 60, whereby the spinal canal in the lower back narrows.
  • Degenerative disc disease – The discs acting as cushions between the vertebrae deteriorate, leading to pain.
  • Spondylolisthesis – One vertebra slips forwards over another one, causing pain.

However, pregnancy, muscle spasms, inflammation of the lumbar and/or pelvic muscles, obesity, wearing heels and sleeping on a poor mattress, all contribute to the development of sciatica over time too.

How Can Chiropractic Help?

Here at the Bedford Chiropractic Clinic, results from your posture scans and body examinations, that are carried out during the consultation, will determine the cause of your sciatica. We then aim to treat the cause of your sciatica, using non-invasive and drug-free techniques. This involves physical manipulations, which will help realign your spine, taking pressure of the affected nerve, which instantly relieves pain. We use sEMG scans to highlight areas of high muscle tension and areas of misalignments. Give us a call at 01234 353937 for more info and advice, or to book a consultation.

Surinder Sandhu, a chiropractor at the Bedford Chiropractic Clinic providing treatment to a young female patient