Sciatica is a relatively common condition, and simply refers to pain down the back of the leg or ‘posterior leg pain’. Sciatic pain is often described as tingling, pain or numbness produced by an irritation or entrapment of the nerve roots (3rd lumbar to the 3rd sacral nerve roots) that make up the sciatic nerve. Sciatica occurs when this nerve is compressed, irritated or inflamed. The typical referral pattern begins in your back or buttock and moves down the back of your leg, radiating around the outside of your knee and lower leg into your big toe and second toe. Weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg may also occur. Pain referral can also occur in the leg from other sources such as the lumbar spine facets, discs, sacroiliac joints or spinal tissue without compression of the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms can certainly arise from an acute injury, such as heavy lifting, a fall, or a day shovelling. Pain may also develop more insidiously from prolonged sitting, lack of exercise or repetitive bending.
As Gonstead chiropractors, we take care to identify the pain generating structure and it’s influence on the leg pain. At times this may even be another part of the spine or pelvis that causes a compensatory pattern irritating the sciatic nerve. When clinically indicated we typically use specifically applied manual care (adjustments) to address the problem.
It is important to also attend to underlying initiating and perpetuating factors such as posture, movement patterns (eg. bending technique, lifting technique, exercise technique), work habits, sports injury risk factors and sitting. Exercise advice for stability, flexibility and proprioception (joint/body positional awareness) may be helpful.