Sciatica is a common condition that is easy to identify most of the time. Many people think they are suffering from general back pain, but much of the time, the pain is sciatica related. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve you have in your body.
The nerve begins in your lower back and then splits on both sides of your body. From there it runs down through your hips, butt, legs, and feet on either side of your body. Sciatica is a condition that attacks this sciatic nerve and can cause a lot of pain.
In this post, we will explore the causes of sciatica, the most common symptoms, treatment options, and if foam rolling is one of the best ideas for relieving sciatica pain.
Overall, sciatica is caused when the roots of the lumbar region and the lumbosacral spine become irritated. You can also develop sciatica from lumbar spinal stenosis. Which is a narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back. Degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis can lead to the development of sciatica as well.
More common causes of sciatica, and what I see at my chiropractic Wasilla clinic, and are not as serious are pregnancy and muscle spasms in your back and your butt. Being overweight, wearing high heels on a regular basis, not getting enough exercise and movement, and sleeping on a mattress that is not right for your body can trigger the condition as well. Doing these things if you already have sciatica will make your pain much worse as well.
The symptoms of sciatica pain are pretty straight forward and easy to identify. There are some obvious telltale signs that point to whether or not you are suffering from this condition and they include the following symptoms:
- Lower back pain
- Pain in your leg or butt, especially while sitting down
- Pain in your hip
- Tingling or burning sensations down your leg
- Weakness and numbness in your leg – it is hard to move your leg or foot
- Shooting pains that make it hard to stand up
Generally, sciatica pain will only affect one side of your body and not the other. This is one of the easiest ways to determine if you have sciatica. Feeling the above symptoms only on your right side, for example, would suggest you are suffering from sciatica pain and not just general lower back pain
Sciatica pain will run from your lower back to the mid region of your thigh. If the location of the pain is a little different you may also feel the pain extend to your foot and toes as well.
The good news is treating sciatica is something that you can easily do at home or with non-surgical options and drug-free therapies. Physical therapy is a popular option for treatment because your PT can come up with a personalised treatment plan of stretching and exercise to help heal your sciatic nerve.
Exercise is another option for treatment and pain relief. While it may sound counterintuitive, moving your body is one of the best things you can do if you are suffering from sciatica. One of the best forms of exercise you can do to ease pain is by low impact walking. You can walk outside or on a treadmill. You may want to begin exercising under the guidance of a doctor or PT, however.
Bed rest for long periods of time should be avoided as it can make the pain and condition worse overall. Sitting down increases the pressure on the discs in your lower back, making sciatica worse. Bed rest does not speed up or help recovery of sciatica.
Another option for help treat sciatica and stop its recurrence is by seeing a chiropractor. They can help relieve pain, pressure, tension, inflammation and pain caused by sciatica. Your chiropractor can also help create a plan personalised to your needs to help prevent the condition from coming back or from recurrent pain. How to get rid of sciatic pain is relatively straightforward when you see your chiropractor and the benefits can be felt as soon as the first visit.
In addition to continuing chiropractic adjustments as often as needed, your chiropractor can also help you establish a stretching, strengthening, and workout schedule to stop the pain and condition from developing again in the future.
Foam rolling is another treatment option that is generally overlooked for helping with sciatica pain, but it is extremely effective and worth a try for most people. Using a foam roller is a form of self-myofascial release and has been used in helping pain associated with tightness located in the fascia. It is one of the best ways to release tension, tightness, and knots in the muscles that can be hard to work out without foam rolling.
When foam rolling, start slow and with a foam roller that is not too hard. Doing too much when you first begin can cause even more pain than you had before and feel extremely uncomfortable. When you get into a spot that is tight, painful, or you can feel a knot, you will want to gently roll over the area a few times. You can also hold the roller in the spot where you feel the pain. This will allow the tension or knot to release and from there you can feel nearly instant relief.
Using a foam roller that can also gently vibrate the area where you are experiencing the pain can provide even deeper relief to release all of that tension and tightness in your leg, hip, butt, and lower back.
About Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. has been a chiropractor for over 20 years and has treated thousands of patients. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.