The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from your spinal cord to your buttock and hip area and down each leg to your foot. The sciatic nerve controls many of the muscles in your lower legs. The term sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of this nerve. But Sciatica isn’t a condition in and of itself, but rather a symptom of another problem involving the nerve.
What causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is a sign that you have an underlying problem putting pressure on a nerve in your lower back. A common cause of this nerve compression is a bulging or herniated lumbar disc. Piriformis syndrome is another common cause of sciatica. The piriformis is a muscle that lies directly over the sciatic nerve. If this muscle becomes tight or if you have a spasm in this muscle, it puts pressure directly on the sciatic nerve.
Pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica. Sciatica may be accompanied by numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected leg. Sometimes it may feel like a jolt or electric shock or a dull constant ache. Sciatic pain often starts gradually and intensifies over time.
The vast majority of the time, sciatic pain can be relieved through chiropractic adjustments, stretches, and deep tissue massage of the piriformis muscle.