Sciatica is a term used to describe the symptoms of leg pain and possibly tingling, numbness or weakness that travels down the lower back, down via the sciatic nerve in the back of the leg. Sciatica (sometimes known as radiculopathy) is a description of symptoms, not a diagnosis. A herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis can all cause sciatica, but it’s up to a patient and his or her doctor to determine the proper course of action.
The most common form of leg pain from the sciatic nerve is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Occurs in one leg (not both)
- Starts in the lower back or buttock, and radiates down the back of the thigh and typically into the lower leg and/or the foot
It is usually experienced as a sharp pain, as opposed to a throbbing or dull ache. Words people often use to describe sciatic nerve pain include burning, searing, sharp pain.
- Is usually worse when standing or sitting still, and feels better lying down or walking.
- In addition to pain, other common symptoms include pressure, numbness, tingling, or a prickling sensation that radiates down the leg. Leg or foot weakness may also be present.
When sciatica pain is at its most severe, patients may find the pain hard to bear and may need to rest for a day or two. However, resting for more than one or two days is usually not advisable, as prolonged rest or inactivity can make the sciatic pain worse and will lead to deconditioning. Regular movement is important to provide healing nutrients to the injured structures that are causing the pain.
Chiropractors who specialize in providing appropriate physical therapy and exercise programs and instruction, can effectively treat sciatica. If you think you may have symptoms of sciatica and back pain call us for a no obligation consultation to see if chiropractic treatment is right for you.