Sciatica is a term which means inflammation of the bundle of nerves which begin in your lower back and transits down into your leg.  This bundle of nerves forms the sciatic nerve from which the condition derives its name.  Sciatic pain can vary from occasional and annoying to severe and debilitating.  Sciatica typically involves only one leg at a time.  Sciatica can have more than one cause, but typically the cause is an irritation or compression of lower back nerves from an unstable joint, a bulging disc or a degenerative joint or disc resulting in a bone spur obstructing the path of the nerve root.  The sciatic nerve irritation can cause pain, numbness or tingling.  Sciatica isn’t really a diagnosis, but rather a description of the symptoms resulting from an underlying condition.
The majority of sciatic nerve irritation cases that I see resolve rather quickly, often within a few weeks with conservative care.  If there is minimal or no improvement after a week of care, I will often recommend additional diagnostic studies which may include an MRI to obtain a more detailed understanding of the cause of the condition.
Sciatica often causes:

  • Constant pain typically in only one side of the hip or leg.
  • Pain which is made worse while sitting.
  • Sharp, knifelike pain when arising from a sitting position.
  • A burning or tingling sensation down the leg.
  • Numbness and sometimes weakness when trying to walk on the toes or heels.

While medication can sometimes help to reduce the symptoms of sciatica, the actual cause of the nerve irritation is left unresolved.  The simple truth is that chiropractic care is often the quickest and safest conservative method to resolve sciatica.