Sciatica 101: What It Is, Common Causes, and How to Fix It
Sciatic pain impacts more than 3 million people each year in the United States alone! Sciatica is a condition characterized by pain in the lower back, leg, and hip due to compression on the sciatic nerve. Read on for more information about this common ailment!
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body. It starts in the lower back and runs down the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve is in charge of transmitting nerve signals between the muscles and skin of the legs and feet. Pain often occurs along this nerve when an injury takes place, or when something places pressure on the nerve.
The “true cause” of sciatica is compression of the sciatic nerve at the base of the spine, which is usually caused by a herniated disc or bone spur. This nerve compression creates radiating pain that affects the lower back, hip, and outer leg. Typically, sciatica only affects one side of the body. Symptoms include:
- Radiating pain down the leg and into the foot
- Lower back pain
- Numbness in the lower extremities
- Sharp, shooting pains in the side of the hip, the outer thigh, the calf, and/or foot
- A pins and needles sensation in the legs and/or feet
- A burning sensation in the lower body
- Muscle weakness on the affected side
Chiropractic Treatment for Sciatica
Chiropractic adjustments can relieve sciatica pain by treating it at its source. Since sciatica is often caused by a herniated disc, a doctor of chiropractic can locate the subluxation and herniated disc, and correct it. This spinal manipulation helps relieve pressure from the sciatic nerve and removes nerve interference throughout the body.
Chiropractic adjustments will not only relieve sciatic nerve pain, they will remove nerve interference throughout the body. This helps your body heal itself through safe, natural, and effective adjustments.
7 Stretches for Sciatica Relief
While chiropractic is our recommended first line of defense for sciatic nerve pain, the following 7 stretches have proven to help patients with sciatica relief between chiropractic adjustments. Give them a try today:
1. Reclining Pigeon
Start by laying down on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Take your left leg and place your ankle across your right knee to make a figure-four shape. While keeping your legs in this position, bring your right leg up to a right angle and grasp it with both hands behind the thigh, interlocking your fingers.
Hold this position for 5-10 breaths before changing legs. You can repeat this exercise up to three times per leg.
2. Seated Pigeon
Begin this stretch by sitting on a chair with your left foot flat on the floor and your right ankle on the top of your left knee. While keeping your back flat, lean forward and allow your upper body to hinge forward toward your thigh. For a deeper stretch you can press your forearms against your shins and lengthen your spine even more!
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat this stretch up to three times per side.
3. Knee to Opposite Shoulder
Start by laying down on your back with your legs extended straight out on the ground and your feet flexed up. Wrap your hands around your right knee and gently pull your right leg across toward your left shoulder. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then push your knee so that your leg returns to its starting position.
Repeat this stretch for a total of 3 times before switching legs. Make sure to only pull your knee as far as it will comfortably move — you should only feel a comfortable stretch, not any pain!
4. Spinal Twist
Start by sitting down on the ground with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the floor outside of the opposite knee.
Now, wrap your left arm around the outside of your right knee to help you gently turn your body toward the right. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat three times and then switch sides (bending the left leg and turning the body to the left).
5. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Place your right foot on an elevated surface such as a chair or bench so that it is at or below your hip level. Slowly hinge your spine forward, leaning your chest toward your foot. Keep your back flat and only allow yourself to go as far as feels comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
6. Prone Press Up
Start by laying down on your stomach with your elbows bent underneath you and your palms flat on the floor. While keeping your elbows, hips, and pelvis on the floor, lift your head and chest off the floor by pressing down into your arms. Focus on keeping your back muscles relaxed and only go as high as you are comfortable. Hold for five breaths, release, and then repeat 10x.
7. Standing Spinal Extension
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands resting on the back of your pelvis, fingers pointing down. Gently press into your hands while lifting your chest toward the ceiling and slightly extending your spine backwards. Hold for five breaths, release, and then repeat five times.
Gold Coast Chiropractic Can Help
Sciatica pain is not something you should have to accept as part of your daily life. Through chiropractic care, Dr. Fisher can help treat your pain at its source — no more masking pain symptoms with medication.
Dr. Fisher is an expert in the chiropractic field who cares deeply about each of his patients. He wants to get you back to living life to its fullest!
Chicago has so much to offer — activities, restaurants, history, careers, sports, and everything in between. Sciatica has no place in the life of a happy Chicagoan.
If you’re suffering from sciatica pain, or are simply interested in how chiropractic can benefit your life, call us today to schedule your appointment — we would love to help! 312.988.9655