Sciatica is a painful condition caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, a very long nerve that extends all the way from your lower back down each leg. The most common cause of compression of the sciatic nerve is disc herniation, which occurs when one of the spongy discs in your lower (or lumbar) spine moves out of its normal position and presses against the nerve as it leaves the spine. Other causes of compression include inflammation of soft tissues in the lumbar area, tumors, trauma and some types of spinal diseases.
Sciatica can cause shooting pain, dull aching, numbness, tingling or burning sensations that can run from the low back all the way down the leg. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may be worse when lying down or sitting.
Chiropractic adjustments are an effective way to relieve impingements on the sciatic nerve and to improve circulation to the surrounding tissues. By gently realigning the lumbar vertebrae so discs can resume their normal positions, the nerve pathway between the brain and the legs is restored for reduction or elimination of symptoms like pain and numbness.
Sciatica is more likely to occur when sitting or standing for long periods of time or as a result of repetitive motions like bending, twisting or lifting, as well as sleeping on a “bad” mattress and carrying uneven loads that result in unequal distribution of weight. Practicing good posture, taking breaks when standing or sitting for long periods of time, wearing supportive shoes and investing in a good mattress can help prevent sciatica, and so can losing weight and remaining physically active. Having regular chiropractic evaluations and spinal adjustments is also critical for maintaining proper spinal alignment and avoiding mild issues from progressing to painful problems.