Sciatica is a condition that involves pain, numbness, or tingling that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. “Sciatica” is a description of pain in the sciatic nerve – not a diagnosis. Much like headaches are a symptom that can be from a variety of sources, sciatica can be caused by a variety of conditions, which will each be treated specifically according to their cause. Our chiropractic assessments are an excellent starting point to determining the cause of sciatica, and determine treatment accordingly. 

Often in cases of sciatica, nerve roots in the low back are being irritated by “joint restrictions” in the low back, which respond very well to chiropractic adjustments, which aim to restore proper joint mobility and improve nerve function along with biomechanical function. 

Some possible causes of sciatica, which require proper assessment to determine which is most likely, include:

  • Lumbar radicular pain: lateral lumbar nerve root entrapment/irritation can irritate the lumbosacral plexus, causing irritation in the sciatic nerve distribution
  • Herniated or Bulging Discs: A herniated or bulging disc in the spine can press against the sciatic nerve, causing it to become compressed or irritated.
  • Spinal Stenosis: This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, including the sciatic nerve.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: Over time, the discs in the spine can wear down and degenerate, leading to a loss of disc height and narrowing of the spaces between the vertebrae. This can cause nerve pressure against the sciatic nerve.
  • Piriformis Syndrome: This condition involves the tightening or spasming of the piriformis muscle, which runs across the buttocks and can compress the sciatic nerve.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This condition involves a vertebra in the spine with a defect, causing slippage out of place, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

As you may expect, when a chiropractor provides care for sciatica, treatments vary depending on the cause found during the assessment process. Chiropractic care for sciatica includes hands-on care, rehab exercises and stretches according to your diagnosis, and specific things in your day-to-day activities to do and things to avoid. Please keep in mind, exercises and stretches for different sciatica causes are very specific to the condition, and doing the wrong stretches at home can severely impede recovery or make things worse. Please have your sciatica assessed and determine your treatment plan with our chiropractors before attempting any exercises you find online, or friends telling you “worked for them!”