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Sciatica: An Overview

By HERWriter
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Sciatica related image Photo: Getty Images

The largest nerves in your body is the sciatic nerve. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), "The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body, running from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. It controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet."

Issues with the sciatic almost never occur between 30-50 years of age. Some pregnant women may develop issues with the sciatic nerve due to the extra pressure or weight on the nerve area. The pressure on the nerve can be age- or injury-related.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, other causes of sciatica may include:

• Tumors
• Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving the narrow muscle in the buttocks)
• Slipped disk
• Pelvic injury or fracture

In the article for Spine-Health.com, author Dr. Stephen H. Hochschuler stated the following are symptoms of sciatica:

• A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk
• Burning or tingling down the leg (vs. a dull ache)
• Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely can occur in both legs)
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
• Pain that is worse when sitting
• A constant pain on one side of the rear

The sciatic nerve generally doesn’t require extensive treatment as the symptoms usually subside. However, at-home treatments include an over-the-counter pain reliever (Advil, Motrin IB, Tylenol, etc) and ice. Bed rest is not recommended and can actually make the issue worse. However you should reduce your exercise program for a few days. Once the sciatic nerve pain subsides, add or increase flexibility exercises for your back and strengthening exercises of your stomach.

If your pain does not decrease after a few weeks, your doctor may give you an injection to reduce the swelling. For those with disabling leg pain, usually after three months or more, surgery may be a final option.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Approximately 80 to 90 percent of patients with sciatica get better over time without surgery."

Prevention is the key with sciatica. The ACA recommends the following prevention tips if you have or want to prevent issue with the sciatica nerve:

• Use good body mechanics when lifting
• Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest
• Maintain a healthy diet and weight
• Maintain proper posture
• If you smoke, seek help to quit
• Exercise regularly


Sciatica. American Chiropractic Association. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3127

Sciatica - PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved October 31, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001706

Sciatica - Your Orthopaedic Connection - AAOS. AAOS - Your Orthopaedic Connection. Retrieved October 31, 2011, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00351

Sciatica: What You Need to Know About Sciatica. Back Pain, Neck Pain, Lower Back Pain | Spine-Health. Retrieved October 31, 2011, from

Reviewed October 31, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Nice Article about Sciatica Pearland,My friend has this, we desided to see a doctor , i ddnt know why first 3 doctors are not stricks the pain as sciatica, they said its normal back pain,again we checked up, then the results points to Sciatica,so we deside to first of all knowing about Sciatica , so i search alote in website got some are better and are not , any way your article is good ,thanks again.Here i listed where i got ..about Treatment of sciatica
Sciatica mentions to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of the body. Most cases of acute sciatica can be treated at home with painkillers. Chronic sciatica usually requires a combination of self-help techniques and medical treatment. in http://www.medibird.com/treatment/Sciatica-Surgery.html

February 28, 2013 - 4:17am

Nice article, and I've read several that you have on your site.
As a chiropractor, sciatica is something I see almost daily.

I see that you quoted a stat that most sciatica resolves over time 80-90% without surgery. Although that is likely true, if you are going through it, sciatica can be almost unbearable, and some people don't want surgery as an option. Most sciatica is not a surgical condition, but this always requires an evaluation.

I will look for that study and see what the severity was of those patients, how they define sciatica, and what the cause was determined to be, if those questions were addressed at all.

These were some other helpful articles on your site.
What kind of doctor should I see to heal a sciatic nerve
Sciatica Causes and Treatments

I would agree with proper biomechanics, which is why modern chiropractic would be a viable option. Restoration of function could restore normal biomechanical function, which is likely the cause of the sciatica in most cases, although as mentioned in the articles mentioned above, there are multiple causes.

I hope that helps,

William M. Thomas, D.C.
Dr. T.

February 4, 2012 - 6:39pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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