People experience sciatica pain differently depending on the underlying cause of the pain. However, symptoms of sciatica pain are still distinct and can manifest as a mild to severe pain of the lower back radiating down from the buttocks up to the lower legs.
As per an article in Harvard Health Publishing, it is estimated that nearly 40% of people will experience sciatica during their lifetime.
Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica
While some may experience sharp, shooting pain, others may describe it as a burning sensation or an electric shock. Symptoms of sciatica may also cause muscle weakness or numbness affecting the leg or the foot. The pain or discomfort can be felt almost anywhere along the path of the sciatic nerve from the lower back to the back of the buttocks, thigh, calf, and lower leg.
Sciatica pain may be felt constantly, or it may be experienced intermittently. Generally, wear and tear due to aging or arthritis in the spine result in sciatica pain that develops gradually over time. However, a herniated disc may cause sudden sciatica pain.
The pain often worsens due to movement or sometimes due to prolonged periods of inactivity. Sudden twisting, coughing, or sneezing may also worsen the pain.
Invariably, the pain is unilateral and affects only one side of the body. However, depending on the location of the damage to the sciatic nerve, in rare cases, it may be experienced in both legs.
In severe cases, you may lose control of your bowel or bladder movement. This is referred to as “cauda equina syndrome” and immediate emergency medical attention is required under this circumstance. Sudden and severe pain or violent traumatic injury also requires immediate medical care.
Who is at Risk of Developing Sciatica?
Sciatica has been noted to have no gender prevalence. However, there are some unique risk factors associated with the prevalence of sciatica in the general population.
Sciatica rarely occurs among the youth but is more prevalent with increasing age. As per a study published by the BMJ medical journal, age groups between 45 to 64 years are at higher risk of developing sciatica. Age related herniated disc commonly results in sciatica.
Pregnant women in the later stage of their pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing sciatica due to the fetus compressing the sciatic nerve. Changing hormones during pregnancy stretch core muscles, ligaments, and joints of the pelvic and can contribute to the development of sciatica.
Mental stress, smoking, obesity, osteoarthritis, and diabetes increase the risk of nerve damage, thereby increasing the risk of developing sciatica. Lack of proper posture, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing herniated disc which in turn increases your risk of sciatica.
Occupations involving strenuous physical activity including frequent lifting, bending, and twisting are at higher risk of developing sciatica.
If You Have Sciatica
Though sciatica symptoms are variable and there are many risk factors associated with this debilitating condition, the prognosis of sciatica recovery is excellent. In a randomized clinical trial of non-surgical interventions to treat sciatica, 75% of patients reported improvement within 10 days of treatment.
Based on your clinical diagnosis, the chiropractor can formulate the best treatment plan to address your condition and provide effective relief from symptoms. A non-surgical, medication-free treatment plan involving spinal manipulations, spinal decompression, chiropractic exercises, and massages can provide long-term pain relief from sciatica.
Needing help with your treatment plan? We are here to help you through the next steps. Contact our office today to book your consultation.