What is sciatica? That is a question on the mind of many people who are presently suffering from this condition. In our article, we will address common sciatica symptoms to help you determine if your pain is being caused by this condition. We will also address sciatica causes. Finally, we also look for a natural way to find relief from the pain of sciatica.
3 Important Sciatica Facts
In order to help you understand what sciatica is, we have compiled these three important sciatica facts that shed light on the subject.
- Sciatica is nerve pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched, compressed, or otherwise irritated. This nerve irritation results in numerous symptoms, including pain.
- This is a common occurrence, in part, because the sciatic nerve is the largest in the body. Also, because the sciatic nerve is so big, there are many different points at which it can be irritated. The location of the issue will affect the symptoms a person experiences.
- The sciatic nerve begins in the spinal cord. From there, it branches into two and continues through the buttocks and down each leg. This is important for understanding some of the varied symptoms a person may face.
With these three points in mind, we can now take a closer look at individual sciatica symptoms.
5 Types of Sciatica Symptoms
We will group sciatica symptoms into five categories to make them easier to understand. Keep in mind that the location of the nerve irritation will determine which of these symptoms a person experiences and that a person may experience one symptom from each category or sometimes no symptoms from a particular grouping.
- Pain Location – While pain is the primary symptom, the location may vary from person to person. Pain locations include the lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. Pain is generally on one side or the other. For example, a person may have pain in the right hip that radiates down through the right leg.
- Pain Type – Sciatica pain can range from mild to severe depending on the amount of irritation to the nerve. Pain may also start at one location and radiate to other pain areas. A person may also feel sharp pains or a burning sensation.
- Pain Environment – Sometimes the onset of pain occurs acutely after an injury. For others, the onset of pain may be gradual. Certain positions may make the pain worse. For example, some find sitting to be the most painful position for sciatica. Driving may be particularly uncomfortable if the leg you use to press the pedals is affected.
- Muscular Symptoms – A person with sciatica may experience muscle weakness on the affected side. This may result in difficulty walking.
- Sensory Symptoms – Besides pain, a person may experience numbness or a pins and needles feeling. Sometimes the hip and leg experience pain, while the foot is numb and tingly.
As you can see, there is a lot of room for patients to experience different pain levels, sensations, and even location of the pain. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some common sciatica causes.
3 Categories of Sciatica Causes and Risk Factors
Sciatica causes basically fall into three categories:
- Trauma – If an injury causes the sciatic nerve to be irritated, sciatica can result. While this may seem to imply the injury must be to the lower back, other injuries such as whiplash can also lead to sciatica.
- Spinal Damage – Back problems such as a herniated disc or a bone spur can lead to sciatica as the bulging disc or bone may place pressure on the sciatic nerve. When the spine is in a stressed position, arthritis can set in. As the spine degenerates, conditions like sciatica become more common.
- Disease – Certain diseases come along with a higher risk for sciatica. For example, diabetes may result in damage that causes nerve compression. In rare cases, a tumor may be pressing on the nerve.
A person may be at a higher risk of developing sciatica if he or she meets any of the following criteria:
- Age – Sciatica becomes more common as a person ages because many of the underlying causes occur gradually. Even an injury may not immediately lead to sciatica but may create the right conditions in the spine for sciatica to develop later.
- Weight – If a person is obese, his or her spine faces more stress. This can lead to a faster degeneration of the elements of the spine that may lead to sciatica.
- Job – Jobs that require heavy lifting or manual labor may lead to sciatica, but there is presently little scientific research to back this up.
- Lifestyle – Being sedentary can lead to the development of sciatica. Exercise is important to ward off back conditions.
- Posture – Poor posture at work (in an office, while driving, etc.) or at home (while watching TV, using mobile devices, and so on) may lead to the development of sciatica.
- Diabetes – People who have this condition are at greater risk of developing nerve damage, and that includes the sciatic nerve.
Coping with Sciatica the Natural Way
If you suffer from sciatica, you probably want to find a method of getting relief that is safer than using pain medication. After all, these drugs have harmful side effects and don’t actually do anything to correct the underlying condition.
We would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic care. This is a specialized form of chiropractic that focuses on the top two bones of the spine. While that may seem to be far from the pain, many chronic back issues start at the top of the neck and work their way down, gradually weakening the spine.
If you are suffering from sciatica, especially if you have any history of head or neck trauma, we encourage you to seek out an upper cervical chiropractic practice in your area. You may discover that there is natural relief for your lower back pain.