Pain down the leg with or without tingling, numbness or weakness is often referred to as sciatica. The pain can start in the lower back and travel into the buttock and down the back of the thigh and leg and into the foot.
Sciatica is usually caused by irritation, pinching or trapping of the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve. It is the largest nerve in the body and is formed from the nerves in the lower spine. It then travels from the lower back, through the buttock and down the back of each leg. Therefore, when a nerve is irritated, the pain usually follows the path of that nerve and depending on which nerve root is involved, or how severe it is, the symptoms vary.
|Sciatica symptoms may include:|
|Constant pain in one leg or buttock – It rarely affects both legs.|
|Pain worsens when sitting.|
|Difficulty standing or walking.|
|Can feel like burning, shooting, tingling or pins and needles.|
|Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg, foot or toes.|
|Symptoms may be worse with moving, coughing or sneezing.|
The most common cause of pressure or irritation of the nerves is from bulging or prolapsed discs sometimes incorrectly referred to as slipped discs. Other conditions such as Degenerative Disc Disease, Spondylolisthesis and Spinal Stenosis can also cause sciatic pain.
The nerve can become inflamed due to the direct pressure or from the changes in its chemical environment. This is usually reversible, however, if the nerve has been inflamed for a very long time or the pressure on it is very large, then permanent damage may result.
Not all pain in the leg is sciatica and it is often misdiagnosed. True sciatica requires there to be irritation of the nerve root/s that make up the sciatic nerve. Pain in the leg can also be referred from a joint, from the hip, a pulled muscle or tendon problems. Circulation problems can also cause leg pain.
It is important to understand the underlying cause of the sciatic pain and to get a proper diagnosis as effective treatment will need to address the root cause of the pain as well as easing the symptoms. The treatment program will differ depending on what is actually causing the problem.
Chiropractors are highly trained and qualified to assess your condition and examine you to help determine what might be the cause of your symptoms. They will then be able to advise you on how to obtain relief.