Sciatica (Sigh-ATTIC-uh) is a condition where your sciatic nerve is irritated and causes very painful symptoms. Here’s a quick anatomy lesson: Your sciatic nerves (yes, you have two… one on the left and one on the right) are each made up of 5 consecutive nerve roots located near the bottom of your spinal cord in your lower back. These nerve roots exit your spine through small openings bordered by discs in front and spinal joints in the back. Each nerve then travels down the back of your leg, into your calf and the bottom of your foot all the way to the tips of your toes. When sciatic nerves are inflamed, irritated, stretched or pinched, it can cause extreme pain to some or all of the regions along its length. You may have this problem if you experience any of the following symptoms:
• Sharp shooting pain in your back with certain movements
• Pain in your buttocks and/or leg that is worse when sitting
• Burning or tingling down your leg, usually only on one side
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving your leg
The term sciatica describes your symptoms, but not the actual cause. The cause can be as simple as a local muscle spasm or as serious as spinal degenerative diseases. You’ll need to have an examination to figure out what might be causing your pain. It shouldn’t comes as any surprise that chiropractic is usually very effective for treating sciatica. This is because most of the time, the problem turns out to be joint swelling, disc bulging or muscle spasm, and chiropractic adjustments are effective at treating all three.
But sometimes there is a more sinister cause, and the sooner it gets diagnosed, the sooner you can get the treatment you need.
Here’s what you can do: If you start to feel nerve pain, get it looked at right away. Nerve tissue is extremely sensitive, and is one of the least regenerative tissues in the body. This means that if a nerve becomes significantly damaged, it can take a very long time to heal, or never heal at all!
Do you carry a wallet in the back pocket of your jeans? If so, it’s time to change the habit! This location is perfect for irritating the tissues around your sciatic nerve and creating pain. If you MUST carry your wallet in that pocket – please do yourself a favor and take it out when sitting or driving!