Sciatica: What is it and what can be done about it?

Sciatica: What is it and what can be done about it?

Sciatica is a general term used to describe nerve pain in the leg that is caused by irritation and/or compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica originates in the lower back, radiates deep into the buttock, and travels down the back or side of the leg.

The term sciatica is often overused and leads to an inaccurate representation of the cause of your condition. Not all types of lower back pain or radiating leg pain originates from the sciatic nerve, and therefore is not technically sciatica.

Your Chiropractor is a musculoskeletal health expert who can diagnose the underlying cause of your sciatic nerve pain and offer relevant treatment options to help restore your health. At Perth Allied Health Clinic our Chiropractors undertake a detailed history and physical examination to accurately diagnose and treat your condition.

The Causes of Sciatica

Sciatic nerve pain is a set of symptoms caused by an underlying medical condition; it is not a medical diagnosis.

Often, a particular event or injury does not cause sciatica—rather it tends to develop over time. Sciatica affects 10% to 40% of the population, typically around the age of 30 to 50 years. Sciatica is found to be common in certain types of occupations where physically strenuous positions are used, such as machine operators or truck drivers.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of sciatica are commonly felt along the path of the large sciatic nerve. Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following features:

Pain:  Sciatica pain is typically felt like a constant burning sensation or a shooting pain starting in the lower back or buttock and radiating down the front or back of the thigh and leg and/or feet. More commonly leg pain is worse than the back pain.

Numbness: Sciatica pain may be accompanied by numbness in the back of the leg. Sometimes, tingling and/or weakness may also be present.

One-sided symptoms: Sciatica typically affects one leg. The condition often results in a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg.1Rarely, both legs may be affected together.

Posture Induced Symptoms: Sciatica symptoms may feel worse while sitting, trying to stand up, bending the spine forward, twisting the spine, lying down, and/or while coughing.

Common medical conditions that may cause sciatica include:

  • A herniated lumbar disc
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
  • Lumbar degenerative disc disease & general degenerative changes in the lower back
  • Spondylolisthesis (anterior movement of a vertebrae)
  • Muscle spasm and/or inflammation of the lumbar/pelvic muscles
  • Rarely, tumours, blood clots, or other conditions in the lumbar spine may cause sciatica however, they require prompt medical attention and intervention.


Because there are many possible underlying causes of sciatica nerve pain and dysfunction, such as disc herniations, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and piriformis syndrome, it is important to visit your Chiropractor as soon as possible once you begin experiencing symptoms as they can provide advice on appropriate courses of action to treat the problem. If this is a problem for you or for someone you know do not hesitate to book in online or call 0476 252 599, for an assessment and to get you on the road to recovery.

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