Sciatica is pain running down your leg in a pattern determined by the sciatic nerve. The pain often starts in the low back – (due to a herniated or bulging disc) – or in the buttock – and extends as far as your toes. It can be accompanied by numbness, ‘pins and needles’ (“paresthesia”), pain, burning, or, in more severe cases, actual weakness affecting the ankle or toes may accompany the sciatica.

Sciatica is a form of pain that is called a “radiculopathy” in medical terminology. This means that it often follows the path of a single spinal nerve root such as the Lumbar 4(L4), Lumbar 5(L5) or Sacral 1 (S1). This is often the case when sciatica is due to a herniated disc or bulging disc. If the cause is in the lumbar spine, the sciatica – or leg pain – can be accompanied by back pain.

When the sciatica symptom is due to a herniated disc, it often affects a single strip of skin or dermatome. A far lateral herniated disc affects the exiting nerve root and is compressed by a lateral disk herniation. More commonly, however, the disk bulge is close to the body’s midline. The patient’s detailed distribution of symptoms usually will match the MRI findings in the spine, but an examination is recommended to confirm these findings. Most regular MD’s are not trained in these complicated specific spinal conditions, and a specialist who routinely treats disc injuries, is preferred.

Sciatica Terms and Conditions:

Sciatica and pregnancy – The symptom of sciatica can be triggered during pregnancy for three reasons. The added weight and bending stress on the spine can worsen a bulging disc. The expanded uterus in the pelvis can press on some the lumbar and sacral spinal nerves that help form the sciatic nerve. Additional stresses from the weight of the pregnancy can trigger a piriformis syndrome.

  • Sciatica and Back Pain – Radiating pain down the leg often occurs along with back pain, however, the two symptoms are not always linked. A herniated disk will occasionally cause buttock and leg pain with virtually no back pain. When you have back pain alone but no sciatica, then your problem may be something other than a herniated disk. Back pain alone can even have it’s roots in life stress, however sciatica is almost always an indication of a specific nerve related problem.

Sciatica Treatment: When Sciatica is due to a Disc problem, the only form of treatment that has proven beneficial is one that physically addresses the disc. While Chiropractic treatment can give temporary relief, most cases will not respond permanently. Other forms of treatment such as Physical Therapy, Massage and Accupuncture do not address the disc and can not fix the problem. These treatments can actually make you worse if you have a true disc injury.  Spinal Decompression is the safest and most effective treatment to date for Sciatica due to a Bulging, Herniated or Degenerative Disc. The success rate is between 85-90% and unlike surgery, there are no side affects. Surgery success rates are between 40-60%, and the chances of having a second surgery is 70% after having the first (surgery).

**A Bulging or Herniated Disc in the Lumbar Spine/Lower Back can cause Sciatica. However, a similar Disc Problem or injury in the Cervical Spine/Neck,  can create similar symptoms in the arms and hands.