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What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is common condition that results in both back and leg pain.The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is composed of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine to form the "sciatic nerve."

  • The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back at lumbar segment 3 (L3).
  • At each level of the lower spine a nerve root exits from the inside of the spine, and these respective nerve roots then come together to form the large sciatic nerve.
  • The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of each leg
  • Portions of the sciatic nerve then branch out in each leg to innervate certain parts of the leg - the thigh, calf, foot, toes.

The sciatica nerve can become pinched or irritated by misalignment of the lumbar vertebra, the sacrum, pelvis, protrusion of a lumbar disc or tightness of the muscles of the hip and lower back, like the piriformis.  In evaluation and management of this condition, it is important to determine the exact cause of the pain and orient treatment toward the culprit.

Doctors of Chiropractic are experts at diagnosing and treating these conditions.  A case history and physical examination will be the first steps in proper evaluation and management.  Imaging may also become necessary to evaluate for specific disc or nerve problems.  Once the cause is determined then treatment will consists of addressing the dysfunction.  Most often it will consist of gentle, spinal manipulation, stretching and strengthening exercise as well as modalities to reduce swelling and inflammation such as ice, nutraceutical supplements or cold laser.  Massage therapy may also be effective.

For more information about safe and effective treatment for sciatica, contact Northwest Wellness in Federal Way at 253-937-0660.