Sciatica is an extremely painful condition that can affect the low back down to the foot. The sciatic nerve, the largest in the body, is made up of branches of nerves that come off of the spinal cord in the lower back. These nerves form a bundle that travels through the buttock, hip, and down the back of the thigh and calf. The pain from any pressure on the sciatic nerve can be intense. Some of the most common causes of sciatica are:
- Disc herniation or bulge – Injury or wear and tear can cause weaknesses in the spinal discs, which separate and provide cushion for the vertebrae.
- Spinal stenosis – Narrowing of the canal through which the spinal cord passes, either from injury or degeneration, can cause sciatic nerve pain.
- Piriformis syndrome – The piriformis muscle is located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. The sciatic nerve passes alongside this muscle, and if there is any muscle spasm, can put pressure on the nerve.
- Pregnancy – The added weight of the baby combined with changes in the mother’s body can stress the lower back and give rise to sciatica.
Treatment usually involves bed rest, medications for pain and inflammation, corticosteroid injections, or even surgery for severe cases.
Moving Beyond Sciatica Symptom Relief
It can be easy to get caught up in the symptom management game with sciatica. Some days the pain might be worse in the lower back, others in the thigh or calf. In order to find relief that lasts, the root cause of the problem must be addressed.
In many cases, the underlying cause of sciatica can begin with a misalignment in the upper cervical area of the spine. The atlas vertebra sits at the very top of the neck and supports the weight of the head. A misalignment here can cause the entire spine to compensate over time. If the weight of the head isn’t carried properly, it can ultimately lead to lower back problems that put pressure on the sciatic nerve. At Symmetry Health Chiropractic Center, we take a detailed look at atlas alignment in order to determine if it is creating other imbalances within the spine and nervous system. Our approach is very specific and gentle and has lead to lasting relief for lower back pain, sciatica, and many other conditions.
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