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Back Pain: Is It Sciatica?


Submitted by True Health Chiropractic and Massage

Sciatica is not the same as back pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and sciatica is a condition characterized by pain that starts deep in the buttocks, and spreads down the back of the thigh, lower leg, and even into the foot.

Anything that irritates this nerve can cause pain, ranging from mild to severe. However, sciatica is usually caused by a spinal disc herniation, sometimes called a “slipped disc,” in the lower spine which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. The pain felt in your hip or lower leg is what is known as “referred pain.”  The brain is confused as to where the pain is actually coming from. Sciatica typically affects only one side of the body.

Symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Pain in the back, buttocks, hip, or lower extremities
  • Leg and/or foot numbness
  • Pins and needles in the legs and buttocks
  • Burning sensation
  • Muscle weakness

Sciatica can be an extremely debilitating condition that can disrupt your sleep and affect your everyday activities. But sciatica can be treated very successfully without the need for surgery or harmful medications.

The first line of treatment is chiropractic adjustments to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve and restore motion to the joints. Spinal decompression is another great option when a disc issue is the cause of the nerve irritation. Massage therapy can also be extremely effective. Your chiropractor may also recommend additional treatment options, such as rehabilitative exercises, that may help to produce the most desirable results.

Preventing sciatica is always better than treating it after it occurs. Sciatica is not usually caused by an injury, rather, it develops from poor body mechanics and general wear and tear on the structures of the spine. Following are a few recommendations for preventing sciatica as well as other types of back pain.

  • Lose weight if necessary. The extra weight in your abdomen strains your spine on a continuous basis. This is exacerbated when you pick something up— even if it’s just a bag of groceries—and are forced to hold it further away from your body.
  • Always lift by bending at the knees and keeping your back straight rather than bending at the back.
  • Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy.
  • Regular exercise helps to build up back muscles and protect your spine.
  • Practice good posture—especially when sitting for a long time.

If you feel like you may have sciatica, you should schedule an appointment immediately so it can be properly diagnosed and treatment can start right away. Like many medical conditions, early treatment is more effective than waiting until symptoms get worse.

For more information on living a healthier life, contact True Health Chiropractic & Massage at (309) 585-0704 or visit them online at Their office is located at 2406 East Washington Street in Bloomington, IL. They offer two new patient specials, which include a $75 consultation, exam, X-rays ($350 value), and a $39 relaxation massage! They accept most insurance.