Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sciatic Nerve Pain? Probably Not, But We Can Still Help

Sciatic Nerve Pain, Probably Not.

Sciatic nerve pain is a commonly over diagnosed and poorly treated condition of the back (and leg). Getting the right diagnosis and treatment is key for any type of back pain, whether it’s sciatica or not. Typically, you’ll find that you’ll get some relief initially. But the pain never goes away and can pop up again usually at the worst possible time if you’re not treating the right thing.

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Basic Anatomy

  • Your lower back has 5 main bones that sit on top of your sit bone (sacrum or S for short).
  • The sacrum is made up of 5 fused bones (meaning they don’t move).  
  • They are known as your Lumbar spine or abbreviated to L in medical terms.
  • The number 1 refers to the spinal segment closest to your head and increase as you move towards your feet.
  •  In between these bones you have a disc.
  • Disc are jelly like structures that sit in between the bones in your spine and act as a shock absorber and a cushion to help prevent your nerve from compression.
  • The Sciatic nerve is largest nerve in the body for those playing at home. Its branches come out below the L4, L5, S1, S2, S3 bones in your spine. It is what they refer to as sciatic nerve pain when pressure is being placed on this nerve. 



Sciatic Nerve Pain

The Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body

Sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain

5 spinal segments make up your lower back

  • Sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain

    5 fused spinal segments at the base of your spine make up your sacrum.


Sciatic Nerve Pain vs Referred Pain

Sciatica means that your sciatic nerve is feeling like it’s under pressure. The early warning signs of sciatic nerve pain can be lower in the back. But, usually isn’t something you will get checked out until you get tingling or pins and needles down the back of your leg to your big toe.

Sciatic nerve irritation usually occurs at the L5 or S1 level of the spine but can be caused by pressure on any part of the sciatic nerve especially by the muscles at the back of your hip joint.

Low back pain that radiates into the groin, buttock and upper thigh is commonly called referred pain. The pain often moves around, and rarely radiates below the knee. It will feel more like and achy or “feels tired” type of pain.

The distinction of these 2 pains are very important. Treatment options for both vary greatly and will influence the length, amount and time you feel relief.

What you can do to relieve your pain.

First thing is getting the right diagnosis. Unfortunately, Dr google is good for giving a broad answer. It can be a good first line of attack to know what to release (or when you need to go to the emergency department). But it’s not very good at picking up the subtleties of the human body. Or, making a diagnosis of Sciatic nerve pain. 

My first advice is to give it a rest. Not total rest laying on the couch with your legs up in the air, that will only stiffen and tighten things up (not to mention get you to focus more on the pain). Rest from activities that make the pain worse (I.e.: squatting, deadlifting).

Show yourself some extra TLC, stretch foam roll, go for a slow walk. Something that gets you moving relatively pain free. If the pain doesn’t resolve within a couple of days or you want to get on top of it quick smart, then you can call up your chiro or physio who can give a treatment and specific exercises to do in between treatment and decrease the pain and discomfort in the future.

Check out our other great blogs:

Our top 6 reason to see your local chiro or physio.

My favorite stretches for back pain.

The Cure For Back Pain.

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