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Sciatica

Chiropractors regularly assist patients with sciatica. Sciatica is the Latin word for “Pain down the back of the leg”. Medically the term sciatica is referred to the irritation and trapping of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. 

The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and along the back of each leg. Sciatica is pain along this nerve and is a relatively common form of back pain and is usually caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated or bulging disc. 

The pain from sciatica can be anything from infrequent, irritating to severe and debilitating. The pain often can radiate into the legs, buttocks and feet. Also, sciatica can lead to weakness with walking and moving. 

While sciatica can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, it is rare that permanent nerve damage (tissue damage) results. Most pain is due to inflammation and will improve within a period. Nerve pain is caused by a combination of pressure and inflammation on the nerve root, and treatment is centred on relieving both of these conditions. Typically, sciatica is made worse by bending, lifting, sneezing and coughing. 

Sciatica is a common problem for manual workers, sedentary office employees and is particularly prevalent during pregnancy. Chiropractic care can assist Sciatica with the primary aim are; 

  • reduce pain 
  • restore movement 
  • strengthen weakened muscles 
  • reduce tension 

Causes of Sciatica 

In young and early middle-aged adults, the most common cause of sciatica is a prolapsed intervertebral disc in the lumbosacral area of the lower back. In older people, changes in the spine due to conditions such as osteoarthritis may be responsible either by causing localised pressure on the nerve or by narrowing of the spinal canal – called spinal stenosis. 

Pressure on the sciatic nerve can result from some reasons including 

Sometimes, just sitting awkwardly can cause sciatica Piriformis syndrome (tightness of the piriformis muscle in the buttock that compresses the sciatic nerve) Spinal misalignments, vertebral dysfunction herniated disc Poor posture – wearing high heels, prolonged sitting, poor mattress Poor lifting technique and reduced bending habits Spinal compressions due to osteoporosis 

Diagnosis of Sciatica 

Since there are many disorders that can cause sciatica, your chiropractor's first task is to determine the exact cause of your sciatic nerve interference. 

Chiropractic therapy 

Always begins with a thorough history, Spinal, orthopaedic and neurological examination. Special diagnostic imaging investigations such as X-ray, CT, MRI Posture pro scan may also be required to accurately diagnose your sciatica. 

Treatment of Sciatica 

As sciatica is due to pressure on the sciatic nerve, it stands to reason that treatment involves removing this pressure. Your Chiropractic treatment aims to achieve this by reducing nerve pressure caused by poorly moving spinal joints as well as easing muscular tension in the lower spine, buttock and leg. 

This is achieved by using a combination of the following techniques: 

  • Spinal mobilisations 
  • Massage therapy and trigger point therapy 
  • Stretching tight muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments 
  • Ultrasound and other electrical stimulation devices 
  • Advice and education 
  • Home stretching exercises and asked to apply ice and heat to help aid your recovery


Sciatica