Sciatica is more of a symptom than an actual disease. Commonly, it refers to the pain starting from the lower back and going down the leg. While it can also be a symptom of an underlying nerve dysfunction caused by compression of one or more lumbar or sacral nerve roots from a spinal disc herniation. Pain typically occurs in the distribution of a dermatome and goes below the knee to the foot. It may be associated with neurological dysfunction, such as weakness. The pain is characteristically of shooting type, quickly traveling along the course of the nerve.
Sciatica is frequently characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Most frequently it starts in the lower back and travels into the thigh; it can travel further down the leg to the foot and toes
- Burning or tingling down the leg
- Sciatica mostly affects one leg, rarely does it affect both
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
Lumbar Herniated Disc
Herniated disc happens when the soft inner core of the disc (nucleus pulposus) leaks out, or herniates, through the fibrous outer core (annulus) and irritates the contiguous nerve root.
Degenerative Disc Disease
While disc degeneration is a natural process that occurs with aging, for some people one or more degenerated discs in the lower back can also irritate a nerve root then results to sciatica.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
This condition commonly causes sciatica due to a narrowing of the spinal canal. Lumbar spinal stenosis is related to natural aging in the spine and is relatively common in adults over age 60.
The sciatic nerve can get irritated as it runs under the piriformis muscle in the buttock. If the piriformis muscle irritates or pinches a nerve root that comprises the sciatic nerve, it can cause sciatica-type pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Irritation of the sacroiliac joint – located at the bottom of the spine – can also irritate the L5 nerve, which lies on top of the sacroiliac joint, causing sciatica-type pain.
This condition happens when a small stress fracture allows one vertebral body to slip forward on another (e.g. the L5 vertebra slips over the S1 vertebra).
Other things that may make your back pain worse involve being overweight, no proper exercise, sleeping on a mattress that is too soft or wearing high heels.
The main purpose of chiropractic treatment is to remove any subluxation and to allow our own body’s ability to heal itself. It is based on the scientific principle that restricted spinal movement leads to pain and reduced function and performance. Chiropractic care is non-surgical and drug-free.
Consult a health professional like chiropractor in Singapore so they can detect any serious problems early on and take action to prevent permanent damage or injury. It is important to know the underlying clinical diagnosis of the cause of sciatica, as treatments will often differ depending on the cause.