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  • Writer's pictureDr.Clancy Smart-D'Ettorre

What exactly is sciatica?

Sciatica is described as sharp, shooting pain radiating down the back of the leg, past the knee that can be both intermittent and constant in nature. Sciatica gets its name from the sciatic nerve, which is a nerve that originates in your lumbar spine (low back) and travels down the leg. Sciatica can be caused from a multitude of structures (usually soft-tissue) that compress or irritate the nerve along its path. This can happen anywhere from its origin in the lumbar spine to the hamstrings. Differentiating which structure is the likely cause of your sciatica is important, and can help predict recovery time and likely hood of resolution.

One example you may have heard of is Piriformis Syndrome, which is when the piriformis (a deep gluteal muscle) compresses the sciatic nerve as it travels down the leg causing the symptoms of sciatica. A true Piriformis Syndrome is actually quite rare (1) and even though tight gluteal muscles are common with sciatica, they are unlikely to be the cause of pain. A recent update to clinical management published earlier this month has stated that sciatica is most commonly caused by lumbosacral nerve root inflammation or compression (1) usually due to a lumbar disc injury, even without low back pain. Disc injuries, while some resolve spontaneously, most need to be carefully managed to ensure best outcomes long-term and manual therapy is appropriate for all but the most serious of cases.

If you’re suffering from sciatica or know someone who is, please don’t hesitate to call and book an appointment with one our Chiropractors at Spine & Joint Healthcare Group on 9227 6307.

(1) Jensen Rikke K, Kongsted Alice, Kjaer Per, Koes Bart. Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica BMJ 2019; 367 :l6273

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