The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from your pelvis, through your hip area and buttocks and down each leg. The sciatic nerve branches into smaller nerves as it travels down the legs providing feeling to your thighs, legs, and feet as well as controlling many of the muscles in your lower legs. The term sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of this nerve.
Sciatica is a set of symptoms that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots that give rise to each sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the left or right or both sciatic nerves. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, pins and needles or tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.
Sciatica is actually a sign that you have an underlying problem putting pressure on a nerve in your lower back or buttock. The most common cause of this nerve compression is a bulging or herniated lumbar disc. Piriformis syndrome is another common cause of sciatica. The piriformis is a muscle that lies directly over the sciatic nerve. If this muscle becomes tight or if you have a spasm in this muscle, it puts pressure directly on the sciatic nerve. Occasionally, sciatic pain in men is caused by sitting on a wallet.
Chiropractic helps take pressure off the nerve that is being pinched either from a disc herniation or a subluxation (misalignment) in the spine. When the vertebrae or the pelvis aren’t moving very well, the sciatic nerve can get pinched and it will cause the pain down the back of the leg. An adjustment to the lumbar spine and pelvis will help to realign the vertebrae and take pressure off the nerve. If it’s caused by the piriformis muscle, that muscle is tight because of a biomechanic issue within the pelvis or the muscle is tight usually from an overuse or repetitive injury. ART can help to strip the adhesions and trigger points within the muscle to relax it and help to take the pressure off the nerve.
Typically Sciatica can come and go, but the nerve is still being pinched and your body is adapting and it will shut off that pain receptor. However, a lot of times there is a biomechanic problem such as your pelvis being out of alignment that caused the tight muscle and the pinching of the nerve, and then it’s not going to go away until you get your pelvis and spine back into proper alignment.