The sciatic nerve is a nerve that starts at the lower back region of the body and stretches to the hips all the way to the back ends of each leg. When there is pain associated with this nerve, it is a medical condition called sciatica. Usually, sciatica will only affect one side of the body.
What Causes Sciatic Pain?
The most common cause of sciatic pain is the compression of the sciatic nerve. This can happen when the spine is abnormally narrow, such as in the case of spinal stenosis. Other causes might be herniated discs in the spine or when bone spurs in the spinal cord occur. A bone spur is a condition in which bones project outward abnormally, such as in the case of osteoarthritis.
When the sciatic nerve is compressed in these ways, inflammation can occur in the area of the abnormal compression. Pain, discomfort and numbness can be experienced in the lower back and legs.
Sometimes obesity and weight gain can be the cause of sciatic pain. Being overweight increases the stress and pressure on the spine. When spinal changes begin to occur due to the excess weight, sciatic pain can be triggered.
Other times, the culprit might be the occupation of our patients. Many of our patients who experience sciatic pain have jobs that require them to stand for prolonged periods of time and lift heavy objects or boxes regularly. Improper lifting and bad posture can put pressure in the sciatic region of the back and trigger sciatic pain. We have also had complaints of sciatic pain from truck drivers who drive for hours at a time before coming to a rest stop.
Characteristics of Sciatic Pain
Sciatic pain can manifest in a few different ways. The hallmark symptom of sciatica is a pain that emanates from the lower spine, to the buttock and all the way to the calf. The level of pain can range from a mild tingling, a sharp painful sensation or a severe shooting pain. Many of our patients experiencing excruciating pain have described it as a sharp electric shock sensation down their lower backs all the way to their calf.
The pain and discomfort can increase suddenly when a patient sneezes or coughs. Bowel movements, urination and sitting still in one position for an extended period of time can add to the severity of the pain.
There are avenues available to treat this condition that do not require surgery. However, when weakness in the legs begins to have a crippling effect, surgery might be necessary. Also, when sciatic pain and numbness begin to affect bowel and bladder movements, it’s a strong indication that surgery might be necessary to release the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Minor sciatic pain often goes away on its own with stretching, exercise and the correction of bad postures. If it does not subside or gets to be excruciating, making an appointment to see our doctors to determine the best treatment option as soon as possible is an important first step.
Sciatic pain affects more than just athletes, and Lakeside Sports Chiropractic Center wants to help everyone who is feeling sciatic pain. If you’re experiencing back pain and live in the Cornelius, Huntersville, and Davidson areas, call today and schedule your consultation!