2 Your Health: Sciatica: “A Pain in the butt,” and leg


Craig W. Brue, D.C.

Sciatica is often associated with pain, numbness, tingling and aching in the lower back, hip, buttock, thigh, calf and foot. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest of all the body’s nerves, running from the lower back (the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae), through the buttocks and down the back of the leg. The sciatic nerve controls the muscles and sensation of the legs and feet.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica is generally caused by nerve compression and the problem is most commonly a result of a misaligned lower spine that is pinching the root of the sciatic nerve. The most common causes of sciatica are related to these spinal conditions: disc degeneration, disc bulges/herniations, retrolisthesis (posterior slip of a vertebra), spondylolisthesis (anterior slip of a lower lumbar vertebra), spinal scoliosis (it may be worth checking out sites like scoliosis institute for more information regarding scoliosis), pelvic/sacral imbalance from a short leg, foraminal stenosis (pinched nerve openings) and osteo-arthritic changes associated with aging. All of these conditions will cause a sciatic nerve to be impinged or compressed.

How is sciatica diagnosed?

Sciatica is usually quite simple to identify through a case history and examination. Typically, sciatic pain is increased by certain movements, sitting and prolonged standing. Although one cannot see the sciatic nerve on an x-ray, imaging studies will help to rule out pathology (tumors and fractures) and lead to an accurate diagnosis. Without an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your problem, it is unlikely that you will ever have a successful resolution of your complaints.

What is the best treatment for sciatica?

Let me ask you a simple question. If your finger was pinched in a door what would you do? Would you ask for some aspirin, ibuprofen or oxycodone? Would you ask someone to inject you with cortico-steroids? Would you ask someone to cut off your finger? The obvious answer is no. You would simply holler, “help…get the door off my finger.”

Sciatica is really no different. Sciatica is the result of a pinched nerve in the lower back that radiates into the butt and leg. A pinched sciatic nerve is usually related to long standing structural or bio-mechanical problems in the lower back; including misalignment, spinal curvature, leg imbalance, disc degeneration and disc protrusions.

How does a chiropractor help a pinched sciatic nerve?

Eliminating sciatic pain is about as simple as getting the door off the pinched finger. When a chiropractor makes a spinal correction, or spinal adjustment, the pressure on the nerve is quickly reduced and the nerve pain will begin to subside.

The results may vary depending on how long you wait for spinal care. The longer the nerve remains pinched, the longer it will take to heal. My advice: find a great chiropractor to help you get rid of sciatica without drugs, shots or surgery.

Dr. Craig W. Brue is an author, lecturer and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke, AZ.