Do I have sciatica?
Updated: Apr 6
If you've ever had low back pain or pain running down the back of your leg, you may have suspected sciatica. Sciatica is specifically, irritation to the sciatic nerve which is the largest (in terms of length and width) nerve in the body. It is comprised of the L4, L5, S1, S2 and S3 nerve roots. This nerve is most commonly irritated by a disc herniation, local inflammation from an acute or chronic injury, dysfunction of any local joints or muscles, degenerative discs or bones. Symptoms may present as mild, localized low back pain or intense numbness with sharp, shooting pain down the back of the thigh, leg and into the foot.
Due to the size of the nerve and the amount of time we often spend sitting on it, I suspect there may be an increase of sciatica in the general population. The sciatic nerve runs just deep to the piriformis muscle. In about 10% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle. If the piriformis and other local muscles, such as the gluteus group, get too tight or don't fire appropriately, the sciatic nerve can become irritated and result in sciatica.
Another dysfunction that can occur leading to sciatica is sacroiliac joint or lumbar joint dysfunction. If the bones and joints in your low back and hips aren't moving appropriately, the sciatic nerve can be irritated. I see this in my patients who work our regularly, are pregnant or work at a desk for the majority of their day.
Sciatic pain is also common during pregnancy. As the pelvis makes room for a growing baby, muscles, ligaments and bones can shift and change resulting in irritation of the sciatic nerve.
All of the above are structural contributors to sciatica, I have seen improvements for each with chiropractic care. If you are looking for way to prevent or reduce the pain from sciatica, check out this video I made.