Sciatica: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Sciatica is a common condition that affects the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body) and occurs when that nerve is irritated The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down to the legs and feet. When the nerve is compromised or irritated, it can lead to a range of symptoms, including pain, restriction of movement, numbness, and tingling.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica is often caused by a herniated or bulging disc in the lower back. The herniated disc can directly or indirectly irritate the sciatic nerve, leading to uncomfortable symptoms of sciatica. Other common causes of sciatica include spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person, but typically include:

  1. Pain and restriction of movement in the lower back, buttock, and leg
  2. Numbness or tingling in the leg and foot
  3. Weakness in the leg and foot
  4. Burning or sharp pain in the leg and foot
  5. Difficulty moving the leg and foot
  6. In some cases, sciatica can lead to bladder or bowel dysfunction. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Diagnosis of Sciatica

To diagnose sciatica, your chiropractor will perform a thorough physical examination which will help to narrow a diagnosis and in some cases may order diagnostic tests, such as X-ray and in rare circumstances an MRI. These tests can help to guide your treatment options.

Treatment Options for Sciatica

The treatment options for sciatica will depend on the underlying cause of your symptoms. In most cases, conservative treatment options are recommended before considering invasive treatment options such as surgery. Some of the most common treatment options for sciatica include:

  1. Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care can help to gradually remove and/or relieve irritation around the sciatic nerve by restoring the proper function of surrounding soft tissues and correcting spinal alignment and movement in the affected area.
  1. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve flexibility and strength, reducing the risk of future injury.
  1. Medications: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help to relieve pain and inflammation.
  1. Epidural Steroid Injections: These injections can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  1. Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove irritation of soft tissue structures such as bone, herniated disc etc. around the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic Care for Sciatica

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, drug-free approach to treating sciatica. Chiropractors specialise in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the musculoskeletal system, including the spine. By restoring proper spinal alignment and function, chiropractic care can help to relieve irritation of the sciatic nerve, reducing pain and other symptoms associated with sciatica.

During a chiropractic treatment session, the chiropractor will perform a physical exam and may order diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to determine the underlying cause of your sciatica. They will then develop a personalised treatment plan based on your individual needs and symptoms.

Chiropractic treatment for sciatica may involve spinal adjustments, which are gentle, manual manipulations of the spine designed to restore proper alignment. The chiropractor may also use other techniques, such as massage therapy, dry needling or cupping to help relieve muscle tension and reduce inflammation in the affected area.

One of the benefits of chiropractic care for sciatica is that it is a non-invasive, drug-free approach to treatment. This means that patients can avoid the potential risks and side effects associated with surgery or medication. Chiropractic care is also a safe and effective treatment option for pregnant women or individuals who may have other medical conditions that limit their treatment options.

In addition to treating sciatica, chiropractic care can also be used to prevent future injuries and promote overall wellness. By promoting proper spinal alignment and function, chiropractic care can help to improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion, reducing the risk of future injuries and improving overall health and well-being.

Preventing Sciatica

While some causes of sciatica cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. These steps include:

  1. Maintaining proper posture
  2. Practicing good lifting techniques
  3. Exercising regularly to maintain flexibility and strength
  4. Maintaining a healthy weight


Sciatica is a common condition that can be caused by a range of factors. It is important to seek medical attention or talk to a professional like a chiropractor if you experience any symptoms of sciatica, as early diagnosis and treatment can help alleviate pain and prevent long-term complications. Get in touch with us at (07) 5607 0161 to see how our clinic can help. 

Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good posture, and engaging in regular exercise can help prevent sciatica from developing or recurring.

Overall, with proper care and management, most people with sciatica can recover and resume their normal activities. By working with healthcare professionals and following a comprehensive treatment plan, individuals can reduce pain and improve their quality of life.

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