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What You Need to Know About Sciatica

sciatica3The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that travels from the lower back through the hip and down the leg and into the foot.  It supplies both skin and muscles.  Symptoms can include pain, numbness and tingling, and in some cases weakness.  Although some cases can be complicated, most are treated conservatively and never return.
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Lumbar Flexion and Low Back Pain

woman bendingLow back pain can be complex and have many different contributing factors, so to give one recommendation to everyone who sufferers from it wouldn’t make much sense.  However, one large subgroup of back pain sufferers fall under what is termed “flexion-intolerant”.  In this case flexion is bending forward (just like the lady in the picture).  Too much flexion or bending at the low back can be detrimental to structure of the spinal joints and discs.  Repetitive or prolonged flexion or bending can often times be what causes an increase or “flare-up” in low back pain.  This can include repetitive lifting, sitting, or driving.

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Sciatica may feel like a throbbing pain, numbness, weakness, or “pins-and-needles”. This is how Sciatica occurs.  As the lower five nerve roots exit the spinal column they join to form the Sciatic nerve.  Sciatica refers to the symptoms that develop because of compression or irritation of this nerve.

The Sciatic nerve travels down along the back of the leg all the way to the foot.  Along the traveled path of the nerve, down along the back of the hip, thigh, knee, and calf, it must pass between the muscles of these regions.  As long as the nerve is able to freely glide and move, it remains healthy.  However, if the nerve becomes irritated along the way, symptoms can develop.

Although disc herniations often result in Sciatica symptoms, they are actually one of the less common causes of Sciatica.  In fact, it is much more common for Sciatica symptoms to develop as result of problems in the muscles of the hip and leg.  Through a variety of causes such as excessive or repetitive use with certain sports or occupations, muscle imbalances, or previous injuries it is common for small amounts of strain and imbalances to develop with the muscles of the hip.  It is often the accumulation of soft tissue adhesions that restrict normal sliding or movement of the nerve.  This results in that nerve being stretched, which will likely produce symptoms.