Common Causes of Sciatica

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Have you noticed a tingling, aching, and/or painful burning sensation generating from your hip? If so, you could be suffering from a condition known as sciatica. The condition receives its namesake from the sciatic nerve that branches from the lower back through the tailbone, hips, buttocks and down through the legs. When the sciatic nerve is injured, damaged or compressed, the person is said to have sciatica.

It’s important to note that sciatica isn’t a particular disease, illness or injury, but rather a blanket term used to describe a broad range of symptoms caused by injury or compression of the sciatic nerve. The most commonly reported symptoms include lower back pack, swelling in parts of the leg and feet, pain in the buttocks, feeling of “pins and needles” generating from the affecting area, tingling sensation and limited mobility in the leg. In most cases, symptoms of sciatica only appear on one side of the body (the side with the injured/compressed nerve).

According to some estimated as many as 9 out of 10 cases of sciatica are caused by spinal disc herniation – a condition where a tear in the protective outer coating of the vertebrae disc allows the gel-like nucleus pulposus to bulge, or herniate, out. Depending on where exactly the herniation occurs, it may compress against the sciatic nerve to cause sciatica.

A professional chiropractor may be able to offer relief in cases of sciatica caused by disc herniation. If the chiropractor can guide the herniation back into its normal position, compression on the nerve should subside; thus, eliminating the associated symptoms. The surrounding tissue must still heal on its own, so it’s important for individuals to rest and relax following treatment for a disc herniation.

Lumbar spinal stenosis is another common cause of sciatica. This condition occurs when the spinal canal grows too narrow, at which point the sciatic nerve can longer travel down without being compressed. Narrowing in spinal stenosis can be triggered by bone spurs, osteoarthritis, disc herniation or spondylolisthesis.

You might be surprised to learn that muscle spasms may cause sciatica. If the muscle spasms and moves just slightly over the nerve, the added compression may trigger this condition.

Pregnant women are considered high risk for sciatica due to the increased weight and pressure of the fetus pressing against the sciatic nerve. Although it’s generally considered harmless, sciatica during pregnancy can add some rather unpleasant symptoms to an already grueling 9 months.

Talk with your chiropractor about the possible treatment options for sciatica. This condition is typically diagnosed through a basic physical examination along with a history of symptoms. If the condition is deemed to sciatica, the source of compression must then be identified to determine the best course of action for treatment.

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