What is Sciatica?

Person holding their back in pain

Houston Chiropractor Comments: One of the most painful conditions that we treat in our Houston, TX office is sciatica. Sciatica is a condition resulting from the irritation of the sciatic nerve. This is the largest nerve in the human body. It travels from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and eventually down each leg.

When people do an internet search on sciatica, they think that any pain from the back radiating into the leg is sciatica. Luckily, this is not true. Most of the time, after a proper exam, we find that their leg pain is actually a referred pain from a lumbar or sacroiliac joint, or it is an irritated TFL caused by an improper gait.

Sciatica is typically caused by either a herniated disc in the lumbar spine, a bone spur, or irritation of the piriformis muscle. The pain can be a deep achy pain, but typically is a sharp burning pain. The pain is usually on one side only. If the pain crosses two separate joints, such as the hip and the knee, it is almost always a nerve pain, such as sciatica. I typically see patients with the pain primarily being on the outside of their calf muscle.

There are certain risk factors for sciatica. The first is age. As we get older, we have an increase in disc degeneration and spur formation. It becomes easier for the sciatic nerve to become irritated. Being overweight also increases the stress on the spine. Diabetes can increase the risk of nerve damage. Finally, an occupation that results in prolonged sitting or driving as well as twisting or carrying heavy loads can cause an increased incidence of sciatica.

Most people make a full recovery from sciatica without the need for treatment. If the sciatica causes a loss of bowel or bladder control, please seek immediate medical attention. If the sciatica causes any leg weakness or numbness, please give us, or your local chiropractor, a call. Chiropractic care gets excellent results with sciatica and we can show you the correct stretches and exercises to help prevent a reoccurrence.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at www.BeecherChiropractic.com or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!