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What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body; it runs from each side of the lower spine through deep in the buttocks and back of the thigh, and all the way down to the foot.  Sciatica commonly describes the symptoms of pain and possibly numbness or weakness that radiate along the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is one of the most common forms of pain caused by compression of the spinal nerves in the lower back, and the leg pain is usually much worse than the back pain.

Sciatica Symptoms

Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of the rear
  • A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up

Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes.

For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others, the pain from sciatica might be infrequent but irritating.  Pain from sciatica often begins slowly, gradually intensifying over time.  In addition, the pain can worsen after prolonged sitting, sneezing, coughing, bending, or other sudden movements.

What Causes Sciatica?

Common causes of sciatica include:

  • Spinal Stenosis –narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back
  • Degenerative disc disease — breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae
  • Spondylolisthesis — a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one
  • Pregnancy
  • Arthritis in the spine

Other things that may make your back pain worse include being overweight, not exercising regularly, wearing high heels, or sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.

Sciatica Pain Treatment

Chiropractic adjustments commonly correct these dysfunctions allowing the supporting musculature to return to a healthy, balanced state. Sciatica related to joint dysfunction or bone misalignment is best corrected using chiropractic adjustments. By using carefully directed and controlled pressure to restore joints to a normal position and motion, the pressure placed on the nerve is quickly and painlessly reduced. This often results in immediate pain relief. Sciatica related to disc injury often requires additional treatment methods.  Dr. Randy Winchell, Orange County chiropractor, uses laser-assisted treatment for quick sciatica pain relief, and a specialized chiropractic spinal decompression technique called Cox Flexion/Traction that bends and elongates the spine to reduce pressure within the disc, allowing rehabilitation and prevention of future recurrences.

Sciatica Nerve Pain Prevention

Consider these suggestions to help protect your back and improve your spinal health.

  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain proper posture
  • Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest
  • If you smoke, seek help to quit
  • Use good body mechanics when lifting