Sciatica, as we all know, is one of the main conditions for which people seek chiropractic care – low back pain is probably our most frequently reported condition, but Sciatica has to be a close second. One major problem with Sciatica, as a whole, is that most people have little if any idea what the condition really is, or how to treat it – this week we look at 5 Sciatica facts you need to know!
1- Sciatica, actually isn’t a condition…
It’s true – the term Sciatica actually does not describe a specific condition!
Sciatica pain, in general, can be described as dull, achy, sharp, or shooting pain in the lower back and hip, buttock, and leg on one side of the body. Some may also experience burning, numbness, or tingling sensations – and in rarer cases, the condition may be painful (or just uncomfortable) enough to make basic movement like getting up and down or walking feel like a challenge.
When someone says they “have sciatica,” what they therefore really have is a very specific set of symptoms hinting at an underlying condition – sometimes sciatic pain presents alongside or close to an episode or general back pain, or an injury. It’s this set of symptoms that Sciatica actually describes rather than a specific underlying problem. Perhaps it’s Chiropractic’s fundamental focus on finding the underlying cause of an issue which makes it so good for treating Sciatica? The point is that to overcome Sciatica, you need to discover what’s causing it and address that – just trying to numb the pain won’t ever be a permanent solution.
2 – Sciatic pain usually comes from the spine, and location matters
More often than not, the true cause of Sciatic pain is the irritation or “pinching” of a nerve in or around the spinal cord. Depending on the nerve affected, the symptoms of sciatica can vary – this is why many people experience similar symptoms, but in totally different places. For example, symptoms from the S1 nerve root in your lower spine may cause marked pain along the back of your thigh, leg, and/or the outer side of your foot, but the L5 nerve (a very common location) often causes pain or weakness in the foot.
3 – Being overweight can increase your risk.. (but so can being tall)
As always, being fit, active and a healthy weight seems to benefit us when it comes to Sciatica – being overweight puts more pressure on the spine, is linked to poor posture and increases wear and tear on your joints. If you could stand a lose a few pounds you can add sciatica avoidance to your list of reasons to go for it!
…Unfortunately research also shows that those who are just a bit taller than average may also have the same issue. Studies suggest that Sciatica is more common among men who are above 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) in height. It’s reasonable to assume the same applies for women, although as far as we know there hasn’t been a specific study on this.
4 – Exercise is the best medicine
While bed rest was once the recommendation for Sciatica, modern research has shown that this isn’t a good approach. Doctors and spinal experts today all recommend following a structured exercise routine to keep the symptoms at bay. Exercise can help nourish your spinal discs, improve muscle and bone strength, and improve the flexibility of your sciatic nerve—for both immediate and long term benefits.
5 – Most people do overcome sciatica
The good news is that in the majority of cases, sciatica usually responds well to many forms of treatment, and long term complicates are rare. Your pain may even resolve without any specific treatment if you’re generally fit and active. Studies suggest that the average time to relief is about 4 to 6 weeks.
Need help with Sciatica?
While Chiropractic care isn’t the only treatment for Sciatica, it’s one of the most effective! If 4 to 6 weeks for recovery doesn’t sound great to you, why not give us a call and see what we can do?!
 Heuch I, Heuch I, Hagen K, Zwart JA. Association between body height and chronic low back pain: a follow-up in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study [published correction appears in BMJ Open. 2015;5(10):e006983]. BMJ Open. 2015;5(6):e006983. Published 2015 Jun 15. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006983
 Koes B. Moderate quality evidence that compared to advice to rest in bed, advice to remain active provides small improvements in pain and functional status in people with acute low back pain. Evidence-Based Medicine. 2010;15(6):171-172. doi:10.1136/ebm1132
10.Fernandez M, Hartvigsen J, Ferreira ML, et al. Advice to Stay Active or Structured Exercise in the Management of Sciatica. Spine. 2015;40(18):1457-1466. doi:10.1097/brs.0000000000001036
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