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There is a lot of misinformation about sciatica, do you know what it is, and whether you’re treating it properly?

Sciatica is a collection of symptoms not a diagnosis, with the cause differing for every patient.  This point is important, because treatment of sciatica will often vary, depending on what is irritating the nerve, causing pain. Sciatica is a term often misused to describe any pain in the leg that may originate in the lower back.

Sciatica describes a set of symptoms that include hip, buttock and leg pain radiating from the lower back along the path of the sciatic nerve. Everyone has 2 sciatic nerves which runs from each side of the lower spine through the buttock, down the back of the thigh and leg into the foot. This is why some people feel pain in their lower back and buttocks, while others notice the pain in the back of their legs, feet and toes.

Discomfort ranges from mild to incapacitating, and may be accompanied by tingling, numbness or muscle weakness to sharp shooting razor blade like pain. True sciatica is a radicular pain coming from the nerve root (sharp razor type pain) down the sciatic nerve. Sciatica usually only effects one side and often feels better when you lie down or walk but worsens when standing or sitting

The pain comes from irritation to the dura mata which is a pain sensitive structure that surrounds the spinal cord and nerve roots. Depending on where the nerve compression occurs, the location of sciatic pain can differ.

Therefore, the treatment focus for sciatica is not on the pain area, but on what is causing the irritation or compression in the first place.  Common causes include muscle spasms in the lower back or buttocks, herniated or bulging lumbar discs, pregnancy and childbirth, lumbar degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae), and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back) among other conditions.

Treatment options can be as varied as the causes and discomfort level, which is why it is important to see a medical professional such as a chiropractor. You will need an individual treatment plan that caters to your unique situation, not sciatica symptoms as a whole. What works for someone else may not be suitable for you, as everyone’s sciatic pain cause can be very different.

Sciatic pain can disappear within days to weeks, but in severe cases can last for months. If pain is present for more than a couple of days seek attention from your primary care provider. There are a number of effective treatments for sciatica and the role of your chiropractic practitioner is to help you via hands-on treatment and appropriate self-management such as appropriate exercises, adjustments, stretching, acupuncture and soft tissue techniques. If you would like more information contact us on 0266744032 or go to our website by clicking here.