Sciatica: a Big Pain in the Buttocks

Sciatica is when pressure is put on the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that runs from the lower back through the hips and down each leg.  The pain can be mild or severe, intermittent like an electric shock or constant. Sciatica is not a disorder itself, but rather a symptom of a disorder, and in fact, there are several disorders can cause sciatica.  Sciatica is generally caused when nerves become compressed.

Risk factors for developing sciatica are age, obesity, occupation (job that requires prolonged sitting, back twisting, carrying heavy loads) and diabetes.  


Disorders That Cause Sciatica

Herniated Disks  This happens when there is a tear in a disk (the “cushions” between the vertebrae) and its soft interior is pushed out.  It can irritate nearby nerves, including the sciatic nerve.

Lumbar Spine Subluxation  This occurs when vertebrae in the lower back are misaligned.  The misalignment can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Pregnancy/Childbirth  Women often experience back problems during pregnancy caused by tension in muscles and joints.  This is not merely from the baby’s weight but also from the hormones that loosen ligaments in the pelvic region.  Sciatica caused by herniated disks in pregnant women are not common but sciatic symptoms are.

Tumors  Although rare, a spinal tumor can grow in an area that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause pain.  

Piriformis Syndrome  This is a problem in buttock muscles and happens during pregnancy.  The piriformis muscle which aids in hip rotation can become tightened and irritate the sciatic nerve.  

Non-spinal Conditions  There are other problems outside of the spine that can cause sciatic nerve pain.  Diabetes nerve pain is a lot like sciatica. Constipation can cause your stomach to become distended which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.  Believe it or not, carrying a wallet in your back pocket and sitting on it can put pressure on your piriformis muscle which can irritate your sciatic nerve.  If you do this, you may want to consider moving it to your front pocket.


Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Because there are so many causes of sciatica, it’s important to determine the underlying cause of the pain before treatment can begin.  Diagnosis includes patient history and a physical and neurological exam. If warranted, further testing will be done such as x-rays, an MRI, CT scan, or an electrodiagnostic test.  

Once diagnosed, treatment can begin that tackles the underlying cause of sciatica as well as the pain.  Chiropractic treatment for sciatica is usually gentle spinal manipulations. In doing so, pressure on the sciatic nerve is relieved along with the pain.  

Regular exercise, maintaining good posture at all times, and using proper movement techniques when lifting, sitting, getting up, etc.

At North County Pain Relief, we offer a natural, drug-free approach to healing and put the health and wellbeing of all of our patients above all.  If you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain or any other type of pain, call us today at (314)731-4201 and schedule an appointment. The sooner you do, the sooner we can help relieve your pain.