Understanding What Sciatica Is & How It Happens

The term sciatica refers to a stabbing and sharp pain that will radiate along the natural pathway of the sciatic nerve. These nerves branch out from the lower back and into the hips and buttocks then continue down each leg.

It is common for sciatic pain and discomforts to be felt only on one side of the body. However, both sides may also be affected. An accurate diagnosis of sciatica pain may be delayed or missed due to great variations of pain intensity and other reasons.

Sciatica episodes occur more often in individuals who are in their twenties, and the risks of developing this problem rises with age. There are a variety of possible causes of sciatica due to the pain as being only a symptom with other root causes or causes that are truly the underlying issue.

Common Symptoms of Sciatica Discomfort


Since the sciatic nerves originate in the lower lumbar region and branch out through the pelvis at the upper back of the thighs and spread out towards the hips and down the legs, the variety of symptoms can be confusing to some health practitioners attempting to treat the initial pain where it is felt but perhaps not where the pain originates.

Some common sciatica symptoms include:

  • Pain & Paraesthesia, or Numbness Sensations, that Occur Along the Sciatic Nerve Pathways
  • Pain and/or Numbness May Worsen with Walking & Other Movements that Stretch the Sciatic Nerve
  • Discomfort May Increase When Coughing, Sneezing, Sitting or Straining
  • May Begin After a Trauma or Bone Fracture that Presses on the Sciatic Nerve
  • May Note Muscle Spasms Along Lower Back and Limbs
  • Pain May Be Intense, Mild, or Chronic
  • Patient May Feel a Burning Pain Sensation When Nerves Are Irritated
  • Pain that May Worsen When Sitting
  • Discomfort Often Felt Inner Thigh Area
  • Pain May Increase with Movement of Leg
  • Tingling or Numbness Sensations Down Legs Towards Foot

Possible Causes of Sciatica

There may be more than one cause for sciatica or a combination of causes that includes trauma to the lower back, pelvis, upper thigh, or buttocks area.

Other possible causes of sciatica include:

  • Slipped or Herniated Disc that Causes Compression of Sciatic Nerve
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma to Area
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Spondylolisthesis

Risk Factors for Sciatica

Some risk factors for sciatica development include:

  • Aging Process
  • Being Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Wearing High Heels or Unsupported Footwear
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Sitting or Standing in One Place for Long Time Periods
  • After Heavy Lifting
  • Known Back Problems and/or Muscle Spasms
  • Poor Mattress Support
  • Engages in Intense Sports or Activities Putting Extreme Stress on Body

How to Prevent Sciatica Pain Episodes

There are some simple remedies to help prevent sciatica pain episodes in many cases. These include getting regular exercise, avoidance of heavy lifting, wearing low heels with foot support and avoiding high heels, watching diet, avoidance of smoking, and paying attention to good posture habits especially when sitting and lifting.

A chiropractor and/or a physical therapist may help increase overall body flexibility and mobility using specific spinal adjustments and/or deep muscle tissue massage techniques.

Rare Complications of Sciatica Explained

Although rare, there are some dangerous complications if sciatica continues for a long period of time without effective treatment.

These complications include:

  • Weakness in Affected Leg
  • Loss of Bladder or Bowel Function or Control
  • Numbness or Chronic Loss of Sensation in Affected Leg

How Is Sciatica Diagnosed?

Some possible methods of diagnosis include:

  • Physical Exam Noting Muscle Reflexes & Strength
  • MRI of the Spine to Pinpoint Herniated Disks etc.
  • X-Rays to Reveal Bone Overgrowth, Fractures, etc.
  • CT Scan of Spine to View Spinal Cord & Nerves
  • EMG – to Check for Herniated Disks Due to Compression of Nerves and/or Narrowing of Spinal Canal Opening

A chiropractor or other health professional will usually put the patient through specific stretches and moves to determine pain and other symptoms and whether these motions increase discomforts.

Some Sciatic Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are several treatment options for the relief of sciatica discomfort these days.

sciatic pain relief in Denver Colorado

Medications Used During Sciatica & Possible Drawbacks to Consider

Since the root cause of most sciatic pain and symptoms tend to be due to inflammation and/or irritation of the sciatic nerves, anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed. Other possible medications include narcotic pain drugs, muscle relaxers, and some antidepressants. These medications can come with negative side effects, and many patients opt for more natural pain and symptom relief methods like chiropractic treatment, stretching exercises, and others.

Nutrition Changes May Help Relieve and/or Prevent Sciatica Discomfort

Eating a healthy and well-proportioned diet may help control risks like obesity, high blood pressure, and more. Eating more halibut is also recommended by some clinicians due to its muscle-related healing properties due to its high magnesium content.

Patients should avoid saturated fats in their diets.

Self-Care Options for Relieving Sciatica Pain

Stretching, use of cold packs, and/or hot packs may be tried if recommended by your doctor or other health professional.

Surgical Interventions for Some Sciatica Patients Overview

If sciatica symptoms are severe or restrict lifestyle, surgery to treat the herniated disk or other causes of nerve compression may be indicated. Other less invasive treatments are usually tried first. Most cases of sciatica will resolve on their own with rest and proper treatment measures.

How a Chiropractor May Help with Sciatic Pain Relief

A chiropractor experienced with sciatic pain relief may be an excellent treatment option for sciatic pain relief.

Chiropractic Adjustments Designed to Reduce Sciatic Area Inflammation

The very specific chiropractic adjustments that chiropractors typically use are designed to reduce sciatic area inflammation and improve flexibility and mobility.

How a Chiropractic Adjustment May Restore the Body’s Range-of-Motion

These adjustments to the spine and affected muscle and nerve groups may also be used to promote or restore a patient’s normal range of motion to ward off further complications and promote natural body healing mechanisms.

Chiropractors may also perform certain deep muscle massage techniques that may be completed along with the usual chiropractic adjustments if the chiropractor has the required training. Often, physical therapy and/or deep muscle massage techniques are performed together for greater overall positive impact results.

Other Possible Treatments Used for Sciatic Pain Relief

TENS Therapy to Treat Sciatic Discomfort

TENS therapy uses gentle pulsating electrical currents of low voltage to targeted areas to stimulate the nerves in order to decrease pain and discomfort.

Ultrasound Therapy & Sciatica

Ultrasound therapy is used to increase circulation to the area impacted with sciatic pain. These treatments use sound waves that gently penetrate deep into the impacted muscles that are targeted during therapy. This may help reduce muscle spasms and improve circulation thereby hopefully reducing pain as well.

When to Seek Chiropractic Care for Sciatica Symptoms

If you are experiencing nagging sciatic pain or other symptoms, making an appointment with a qualified chiropractor may help. It is possible to treat many cases of sciatic flares with effective chiropractic treatments and other therapies.


Learn more and/or schedule a consultation appointment today at Denver Chiropractic, LLC. Access the online link here or call (303) 455-2225.