What is Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerves is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When this nerve is injured or pressure is put on it, it can cause pain in the lower back that radiates to the hip, buttocks and one or both legs.

How do I know if I have Sciatica?

Sciatica is characterized by pain in the lower back that radiates down one or both legs. The pain is described as dully, achy, sharp, pins and needles or similar to electric shocks. Other symptoms associated with sciatica include burning, numbness and tingling sensations. Sciatic nerve pain varies in intensity from mild to severe, and frequency may range from occasional to constant. The onset is generally gradual and not necessarily associated with a precipitating event.
Sciatica is also known as radiating or referred pain, neuropathy, or neuralgia.

What causes Sciatica?

Sciatica is usually caused by sciatic nerve compression. The nerve compression can happen for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common reasons: lumbar spine subluxation (misaligned vertebrae), herniated or bulging discs, pregnancy and childbirth, tumors as well as non-spinal disorders; such as, diabetes, constipation or sitting on one’s back pocket wallet. Another common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscles that are located in the lower part of the spine which connect to the thigh bone and assist in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is prone to injury from a slip and fall incident, hip arthritis or a difference in leg length. These situations can cause cramping and spasms to develop in the piriformis muscle resulting in pinching the sciatic nerve and causing inflammation and pain. Sciatic nerve compression may result in the loss of feeling (sensory loss), paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles (monoplegia), and insomnia.