What Is Sciatica?
Keep in mind that sciatica is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is a non-specific term commonly used to describe pain that radiates from the butt on down through the back or side of the leg. It is usually caused by compression of the sciatic and/or posterior femoral cutaneous nerves. But the pain itself may be caused by trigger points in the surrounding soft tissue. And even at that, the actual cause of compression may not even be in the immediate area.
It may happen due to the effects of general wear and tear of the disks and vertebrae of the lower back, and it may happen if a disk suddenly herniates. When a disk herniates, it may press directly on nerve roots that become the sciatic nerve. The nerve may also get inflamed and irritated by chemicals from the disk’s nucleus that seep out when the disk is herniated.
About one in every 50 people experience a herniated disk. Of these, 10-25 percent have symptoms lasting more than six weeks. About 80-90 percent of people with sciatica get better, over time, without surgery.
One final thought. Some 20 years ago, I woke up one day with major sciatic pain running down the back of my “right” leg. For several weeks, I could find no way to get rid of it. Finally, the problem was diagnosed by a chiropractor/friend. He said that I had pulled the weight-bearing ligament (the iliofemoral ligament) in my “left” hip which was causing the muscles to contract in my right leg in compensation, and the contraction was putting pressure on the sciatic nerve running down that leg.
He then put a couple of blocks under either side of my body that sort of torqued my midsection, pressed down on the left hip, and popped the ligament back in place. Instantly, the pain was gone.
With sciatic pain, you have no choice but to find the source. (And, of course, you may want to ask one of your chiropractors if perchance the problem is actually located in the ligaments of the opposite hip.)