Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. It commonly occurs when a bone spur on the spine, herniated disk or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within your spine) compresses part of the nerve.
Below are conditions that cause sciatica:
- Herniated or slipped disc – this is the most common cause of sciatica. It occurs when the gel-like centre of a disc ruptures near the spinal nerve, causing pressure on the nerve or irritation.
- Piriformis syndrome – sciatica can develop when the piriformis muscle becomes tight or spasms, which can exert pressure and irritate the sciatic nerve.
- Spondylolisthesis – this is a condition in which one vertebra slips at the base of the spine. The slippage can result in pressure on the sciatic nerve. The pain can develop due to the effects of aging such as when the nerves are being compressed by osteoarthritis and fractures due to osteoporosis.
Sciatica can also be caused by irritation of the nerve from adjacent bone infections in or around the lumbar spine, internal bleeding, tumours, traumatic accidents or injuries, and osteophyte among others. Sometimes sciatica can develop due to irritation of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Sciatica
The main symptom of sciatica is pain. You may experience a deep, shooting pain that starts from the lower back, through the buttock, down the thigh and the back of either leg.
Other symptoms of sciatica include:
- Numbness in the affected leg
- Tingling or burning sensation in the buttocks or legs
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
1. Hot and cold compression packs – these are effective in reducing pain. Apply each on the painful area for several minutes, a few times a day. Be sure to alternate between the two.
2. Medication – over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce pain and stiffness. If the pain persists after using over-the-counter options, consult your doctor.
3. Chiropractic care – spinal manipulation, typically performed by a chiropractor, is used to treat restrictions in spinal mobility. The aim is to improve the alignment of the spine, as a result, reduce pain and improve function. Spinal adjustment is as effective as standard treatments for sciatica as it addresses the underlying cause of the nerve pain such as spinal stenosis or herniated discs. Speak to the team at Neuroworks Chiropractic to discuss your treatment options.
4. Surgery – surgery may be considered when the symptoms are severe, chronic or progressive even after conservative treatment options have been tried.