The sciatic nerve is the longest, thickest nerve in your body. It originates in the lower spine and travels between the vertebrae to both sides of the pelvis and buttocks. It continues along the back of each thigh and divides at the knee into branches that go to the feet.
Anything that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve as it travels this path will cause pain along the length of the nerve, most commonly shooting down the back of one buttock or thigh, and sometimes along the side of the foot. This pain is termed sciatica. The pain is described as a deep ache or a sharp burning sensation. Sciatica can also cause feelings of numbness or tingling, or muscle weakness in the leg or foot.
The most common cause of sciatic nerve compression is a bulging, herniated, or degenerated disc in the lower spine. Another common cause of sciatica is “piriformis syndrome.” The piriformis is a deep muscle in the buttock, and the sciatic nerve lies directly under, or occasionally travels through, the piriformis. If this muscle is tight or spasmed, it will irritate the sciatic nerve, and sciatic symptoms will occur.
At Summerfield Chiropractic, we will perform orthopedic tests to determine the cause of your sciatic pain, and then proceed with treatment. Often, sciatic pain can be resolved with a combination of chiropractic adjustments, deep tissue massage to the low back and buttock, and icing and stretching. We also have a specialized chiropractic table specifically designed to create space between the lumbar vertebrae, which can in turn take pressure off the sciatic nerve and reduce or eliminate symptoms.
Occasionally, especially if the sciatica is caused by a herniated disc, more invasive methods may be needed to resolve the issue. Rest assured that we will recognize these situations and refer you to the proper medical professionals for help.