Sciatica: What is it?

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Sciatica. We’ve all heard that word before. Maybe we’ve even been told we have it. But do we actually know what it is? 

Sciatica (pronounced sigh-at-ih-kuh) is a term used to describe pain, numbness, or tingling which can begin in the lower back and travel down the entire back of the leg. Sciatica itself is merely a way to describe symptoms of another underlying condition and isn’t actually a true diagnosis.

Your sciatic nerve is a nerve which forms in the lower back and travels down both lower limbs. It’s the longest and widest nerve in your body, and the source of communication between your brain and your skin and muscles of the back of your thigh, leg, and foot. Without it, our legs wouldn’t work too well. Unfortunately, that nerve can get irritated and annoyed by many different things, causing it to burn, tingle, ache, or feel “numb,” often in and around the buttock.

For many people, something as simple as bending over to tie their shoe or getting up off the couch after the big game can trigger that nerve to get angry. This can be caused by muscles tightening around that nerve, or joints misaligning in your lower spine, which can obstruct the path of the sciatic nerve. Other underlying conditions in your lower back and legs can also contribute, such as degenerative disc disease or a disc herniation.

While it can be frustrating and disabling to deal with, it doesn’t always have to be permanent. In many cases, allowing the muscles to relax and get your spine back in proper alignment can reduce the stress and irritation on the nerve, alleviating or getting rid of your symptoms.

As always, a visit with your chiropractor can help determine the cause of your symptoms and course of action, as well as rule out any serious health concerns.

Don’t let the pain in the butt be a pain in the butt.

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