Sciatica is a common condition, experienced as pain that starts at the lower back and runs down the back of one or both legs. It is caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve leaves the bottom of the spinal cord, runs from the pelvis through the buttocks, and travels down each leg.
The Pain of Sciatica
Patients with sciatica find their participation in daily living activities severely limited due to the debilitating pain, which may express itself in a variety of sensations in the legs:
pins and needles sensation
The Origin of Sciatica
Although patients with sciatica feel the pain in either of the legs, the actual point of origin is invariably compression of the sciatic nerve root. This is the place where the sciatic nerve begins, in the lower back, at the bottom of the spinal cord.
Two Types of Subluxation Cause Sciatica
Subluxations are areas of misalignment. Sciatica may be caused by either sacroiliac subluxation (misalignment of the pelvic bones) or vertebral subluxation (misalignment of the spinal bones). When the pelvic or spinal bones are out of position, they can impinge the sciatic nerve, causing it to become inflamed, which in turn irritates the surrounding muscles.
The pelvis is composed of 3 bones. One is the sacrum, which is wedged between the 2 pelvic bones. The sacrum bears the weight of the spine and the torso, so it has to be very stable. The sacroiliac joints move very little and have irregular surfaces that lock into one another and interlock with the pelvis. A strong jolt, such as a fall, a car accident, or even stepping into a hole, can force these joints out of position and begin the dysfunction that results in sciatica.
Herniated Discs Cause Sciatica
Between the vertebra there are cushions called intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers and facilitate movement. Each disc has a tough exterior and a spongy interior. Trauma can cause the soft center of the disc to bulge to one side. This herniation of the disc can pinch the sciatic nerve root against the spinal canal, leading to pain.
Piriformis Syndrome Causes Sciatica
Along both sides of the lower buttocks are piriformis muscles. On their way from the lower back to the legs, the sciatic nerves run beneath these muscles. Should the piriformis muscles become inflamed, they trap the sciatic nerve against the pelvic bones, causing pain.
Traditional Medical Care is Ineffective for Sciatica
Bed rest and drug treatment are not effective methods for treating sciatica, and yet this is what traditional medical care prescribes. In the case of a misaligned pelvic or spinal bone, or of a herniated disc, neither of those approaches gets to the root of the problem.
Drugs only mask symptoms. Standard treatment involves daily doses of drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, all of which have serious side effects. These include stomach pains, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, and acute liver failure. Studies have shown that most people who take over-the-counter medications fail to read the warning labels and don’t understand the dangers. What’s more, these drugs have to be taken continuously, because they don’t cure sciatica.
Chiropractic Heals Sciatic Nerve Pain
Chiropractors are experts at diagnosis, and will be able to determine whether your back and leg pain are caused by aggravation of the sciatic nerve root or by some other factor. By means of a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractor will fix the underlying cause of your pain, and put your body on the path to optimal health.