What is Sciatic Nerve Pain?

Sciatica is an irritation of a nerve root in the lumbar spine that can result in pain, weakness, numbness or tingling that may travel down from the low back to the legs and feet.

The spinal cord travels down from the brain to the rest of the body and is encased and protected by the spinal column. Large nerves called nerve roots branch away from the spinal cord, exit the spine and travel out to serve other parts of the body. The sciatic nerves travel from the lumbar spine down through the back of the legs. They are the longest, thickest nerves in the body.


Sciatica may be caused by a misalignment of the vertebra called a subluxation. Contributing factors can include general wear and tear, herniated or degenerated discs, collapsed vertebrae, bone spurs and spinal stenosis. These factors can all reduce the space around a nerve root in the lower back, interfering with nerve function.


Symptoms of sciatica may include pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the low back, buttocks, posterior thighs, legs and feet. Symptoms often occur only on one side of the body. Symptoms may develop gradually, with a mild, general discomfort that may be felt when walking or when standing up from a seated or laying position. If left unattended it may progress to a sharp, shooting pain or numbness that travels down the legs.

Treatment Options

Chiropractic care can be a safe, noninvasive and effective method for relieving sciatica. Spinal adjustments can correct the misalignment of the spinal joint and release the stress on the sciatic nerve, reducing or alleviating discomfort and optimizing health. A chiropractor may also suggest options such as traction, stretches and exercises, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy or muscle work.

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