Sciatica is a common pain condition. It occurs when there is an irritation of the largest nerve in the body – the sciatic nerve. Because this nerve covers such a wide area, the underlying cause of the irritation can vary. Symptoms can also differ from person to person, depending on the degree of compression and the location of the nerve problem.
We are going to take a closer look at some of the indicators that a sciatic nerve irritation exists. Then we will consider just a few of the many causes of this type of nerve problem. Finally, we will discuss why a specific form of chiropractic care can provide natural relief for some patients with sciatica.
Identifying Sciatica Pain and Other Symptoms
Again, because of the size of the nerve, there can be many different symptoms of sciatica. This is often related to where the compression of the nerve is taking place and how severe the underlying problem is. Consider just a few of the symptoms that may occur when a person has sciatica.
- Lower back pain – This is one of the best-known symptoms of sciatica. However, many things can cause lower back problems, so it takes more to identify sciatica.
- Hip pain – This is another of the more common symptoms. Again, the lower back and hip pain relate to the fact that the sciatic nerve stems from the lower back and then branches off into two parts which extend through the hips, buttocks, and legs.
- Sciatica pain that radiates through the buttock and down one leg – The pain of sciatica is very often one-sided, although, in less common situations, both branches of the nerve may be affected. The nerve branch that experiences the pressure will usually throw pain and other sensations down the leg.
- A Tingling or burning feeling – As is typical with nerve issues, the sensations may go beyond just pain. You may also experience a burning or tingling sensation.
- Sitting increases the pain – This is common because sitting may increase the effects of whatever underlying condition is putting pressure on the nerve in the first place.
- Weakness or numbness – This can occur in the leg on the side that is affected, but it can even reach as far as the foot. It can affect a person’s ability to stand for long periods of time or may also impact driving, depending on the affected side.
What Is the Underlying Cause of Sciatica?
This may vary from person to person. Consider just a few underlying factors that may lead to irritation of this particular nerve.
- Pregnancy – Further along in pregnancy, when changes in body weight and center of gravity place more and more pressure on the lower back, it is common for the sciatic nerve to become irritated. The good news is that when pregnancy is the underlying cause of sciatica, you not only get to enjoy your baby at the end of the process, but your center of gravity will also be restored, which should take the pressure off of your sciatic nerve.
- Degenerative disc disease – The discs between the vertebrae help to cushion the bones as your spine bends and twists. The center of the discs is a spongy, gel-like substance. The surrounding tissue is fibrous and provides a slightly more robust outer shell. If the outer shell of a disc begins to degenerate, then the interior material can squeeze out. When this happens in the lower back, it may apply pressure to the sciatic nerve and lead to pain, inflammation, and other symptoms.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – This condition occurs when the central canal of the spinal cord narrows due to wear and tear. While this is common in older persons, there can be misalignments and other spine issues that result in the narrowing occurring faster.
- Piriformis issues – The piriformis is the muscle that connects the thigh bone to the base of the spine. It controls the movement of your hips. The sciatic nerve runs directly beneath this muscle, so an injury or spasm in the muscle itself may place pressure on the nerve and result in the symptoms of sciatica.
Again, these are just a few of the possible causes of the nerve irritation that is resulting in sciatica symptoms.
Finding Natural Relief from Sciatica
One of the places that no one usually checks when all of your symptoms are from the lower back down is in the neck. However, an upper cervical misalignment can be at the root of a sciatic nerve issue. How is this the case? It is because when the bones that balance the skull become misaligned, changes occur throughout the spine and surrounding soft tissue to keep your head balanced and your eyes level. Where the most considerable alterations take place is the more likely spot for pain and other symptoms to occur.
Unfortunately, for many people, the most significant shifts occur in the lower back. This can place pressure on the sciatic nerve. It can also lock the spine in a stressed position. That, in turn causes premature degeneration of the discs or of the spinal canal itself. All of these are factors that are related to sciatica.
Therefore, it makes sense to see an upper cervical specific chiropractor if you are dealing with a chronic case of sciatica. Correcting the underlying issue is a necessity for long-term relief. Contact a practitioner in your area today to learn more. Scheduling an examination can help you discover if this is an underlying factor for your sciatica.