Sciatic nerve pain also called sciatica, is a symptom of nerve injury that causes shooting or radiating pain to extend from your lower back to your legs, feet, and toes.
Sciatica is often treatable, but it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment for sciatica differs depending on what causes your sciatic nerve pain. In this article, we describe six common factors that could cause sciatic pain.
Different Conditions That Could Cause Sciatic Pain
If you experience sciatica, you could be suffering from one of the following injuries or conditions.
Sciatic pain can be a sign of a herniated disc in your lower back. According to Mayo Clinic, a herniated disc, sometimes called a slipped disc, occurs when the cushioning disc between two vertebrae pushes out from between them. The slipped disc can press on surrounding nerves, including those in the lower back around the sciatic nerve.
Signs of a herniated disc include pain in the leg, buttocks, thigh, calf, and feet. You could also experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremities connected to the compressed nerve.
Bone Overgrowth or Bone Spurs
Bone overgrowth, commonly known as bone spurs, occurs when bone tissue encroaches on and compresses the nerves in the spinal cord. Bone spurs in the spine can occur due to age, joint degeneration, hereditary conditions, injuries, poor posture, and nutritional issues.
Similar to a herniated disc, when bone overgrowth affects the sciatic nerve, you may feel a dull pain in your lower back or radiating pain in the buttocks and thighs, as well as numbness and muscle weakness in your legs and feet.
Acute Back Injury
If you suffered a blow or sudden jolt to the back in a car accident, fall, or another traumatic incident, this injury could result in sciatic nerve pain. As such, injury to the bones, discs, connective tissues, muscles, and soft tissues of the lower back can create pressure that affects the sciatic nerve and others in the back.
Poor posture or sitting in an awkward position for an extended period can result in sciatic nerve pain. Poor or twisted posture can place pressure on the sciatic nerve and other connected nerves.
While correcting your sitting or standing position can help to resolve sciatic pain related to poor posture, it is still a good idea to seek medical advice and treatment.
Intrusive Material or Growth
Sometimes, the growth or collection of material in blood vessels or tissues surrounding the sciatic nerve can induce pressure. Some cancerous and non-cancerous tumors may go unnoticed until they press against the nerve, causing pain and numbness in the back, legs, and feet.
Similarly, sciatic pain could be a sign of a blood clot or abscess that has grown against the sciatic nerve.
Neuromuscular or Musculoskeletal Disorders
Sometimes, you may experience sciatic nerve pain because of degradation or damage caused by a neuromuscular disorder or musculoskeletal health conditions. Examples of disorders that could cause sciatic nerve pain are:
- Muscular dystrophy (MS)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
For the best results, treatment for sciatic pain related to neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders should be tailored to the source of the problem.
Treatments for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Since sciatic nerve pain has an abundance of potential sources, the first step is to diagnose the fundamental cause. Depending on the issue causing your sciatic pain, you could require surgery, medication, and physical rehabilitation. However, evidence-based chiropractic care and physiotherapy could treat sciatic nerve pain and other symptoms related to your condition.
Based on your diagnosis, a licensed and trained physician can devise a primary treatment plan for your sciatica. If your sciatica is secondary to a condition that requires specialized treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery, chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment plans can provide supplemental care to reduce pain, improve mobility, and support healing.
Chiropractic treatment for sciatic nerve pain involves spinal manipulation to bring compressed and misaligned spinal joints back to their optimal positions. Spinal manipulation is an effective treatment for sciatica with disc protrusion, lumbar disc herniation, and scoliosis. In fact, chiropractic manipulation sometimes eliminates the need for pain management medication or surgical intervention.
Patients with compressed sciatic nerves can use chiropractic care as an alternative or a supplement to more specialized treatment. Chiropractic adjustments cannot treat underlying conditions that cause sciatica, such as cancer, infection, vascular disease, or nerve disorders. However, scientific studies indicate that chiropractic care can reduce pain perception (Scientific Reports) and encourage mobility (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics), thereby enhancing the patient’s overall comfort and quality of life.
Patients with sciatic nerve pain can benefit from certain physiotherapy treatments with or without chiropractic care. Physiotherapy methods that benefit patients with sciatica include:
- Massage therapy
- Strength and resistance training
- Electrical stimulation (ES) treatments
- Muscle energy techniques (MET)
These methods work to reduce pain, improve mobility, increase strength, alleviate inflammation, and promote healthy circulation in and around the affected area.
Let Naples Community Injury Center Help With Your Sciatic Nerve Pain
At Naples Community Injury Center, we maintain a staff of highly-qualified medical experts to diagnose and treat your sciatica. Our licensed physiotherapists and chiropractors will review all medical documents pertaining to your diagnosis and treatment. We may use this information to build a personalized treatment plan with chiropractic and/or physiotherapy methods particularly suited to your needs.
If your condition requires treatment from a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon or oncologist, our team can work closely with them to ensure a safe and effective treatment plan. If you suffer from sciatic nerve pain, contact Naples Community Injury Center online or call us at (239) 631-5445 to schedule an appointment.