What is sciatic nerve pain?
Sciatic nerve pain (often referred to as sciatica) refers to pain which begins in the upper thigh or buttock area and travels down the leg, sometimes reaching the ankles. Sciatica most often affects people in their 40’s or 50’s and is a symptom of many conditions (1).
What are the symptoms?
The type, intensity and duration of pain can vary from person to person. Most individuals experience achy, burning or shooting pain from the upper thigh and down the leg. People can experience numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected leg, and often symptoms are made worse when sitting, standing or laying down for long periods of time, or when there is a change in posture such as trying to stand up, or bending/twisting the spine (5).
What causes this pain?
Sciatic nerve pain is usually caused by pressure on the nerve. This could be due to a misalignment of the spine, a herniated disc within the spine, being pregnant, having diabetes or being constipated (3).
How can chiropractic help?
Chiropractic care can relieve sciatic nerve pain through soft tissue therapy or spinal manipulation. Soft tissue therapy helps to reduce any inflammation or tension within the muscle to increase range of movement and reduce pain (1). Spinal manipulation can realign the vertebral bodies within the spine. This can remove any pressure on the sciatic nerve and improve any areas of restricted movement which can impact the nerve (3).
Other ways to ease this pain:
- Ice packs (2).
- Warm baths (2).
- Reduce the amount of heavy lifting you are doing (2).
- Doing gentle stretches and exercises such as the sitting hamstring stretch, knee to opposite shoulder stretch and standing hamstring stretch.
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(1) Back to Basics Chiropractic. Sciatica. https://www.backtobasicschiropractic.com.au/chiropractic-problems/sciatica/
(2) Better Health Channel. 2015. Sciatica. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sciatica
(3) Grassi, R. 2019. Chiropractic treatment of sciatica, Spine Universe. https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/sciatica/chiropractic-treatment-sciatica
(4) Heitz, D. and Cirino, E. 2020. 6 stretches for sciatica pain relief, Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain/sciatic-stretches#What-is-the-sciatic-nerve?
(5) Hochschuler, S. 2019. What you need to know about sciatica, Spine Health. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/what-you-need-know-about-sciatica#:~:text=Sciatica%20is%20a%20term%20used,and%20travels%20down%20the%20leg.