What many people don’t realize about sciatica is that it isn’t an independent condition itself. Sciatica refers to pain or injury stemming from the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. This means that sciatica is actually a symptom of another medical problem. When you experience sciatica, you may suffer pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your back and reaching all down the backs of your legs even to your feet. Most people only experience sciatica on one side of their body.
There are several causes of sciatica (although sometimes, no one cause is found at fault), and this blog will discuss three prevalent conditions that can perpetuate sciatica.
This is one of the most common causes of sciatica. A herniated (or “slipped”) disc occurs when the soft core a disc in your spine is pushed through a weakened part of the outer core, placing pressure on your nerves or spinal cord. The lower back (“lumbar area”) is a common area to suffer a slipped discs. The discs in your neck can also sometimes be affected. Herniated discs typically occur as a result of strenuous activity, especially as one ages. Pain often starts slowly and may worsen over time. You may notice the pain intensify with coughing, laughing, after standing or sitting for long periods of time, or when trying to sleep.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the passageway between vertebrae in your spine to narrow. Since your nerve roots and spinal cord are located within this space, any compression can cause nerves to be pinched. Most people experience this in their neck or lower back. It can cause numbness or pain in the neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, and/or calves. Like many other conditions stemming from spinal discomfort, the pain may worsen over time.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when a bone in the spine slips out of its proper place and onto the bone below it. This condition and the pain associated with it can range from mild to severe. It is estimated that many people with spondylolisthesis are not symptomatic, but for those who are, this condition can be very uncomfortable. Some individuals may feel only numbness in their thighs and buttocks area, but other symptoms include tightness in the back or hamstrings, weakened muscles, or pain in the area in which a disc has slipped.
All of the above issues can be addressed by a licensed chiropractor. A chiropractor can assess the proper treatment plan for you based on the severity of the condition. Chiropractic spinal adjustments can help lessen pain by mobilizing painful joint dysfunction and reduce nerve irritations that cause muscle spasms and inflammation.