The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body and is created by five nerve roots that come together and exit the lower spine. It goes through the buttocks on either side and down the thighs all the way to the heels and soles of the feet. The sciatic nerve connects the spinal cord to the muscles of the thigh, leg, and foot. Any type of pain and/or neurological symptom/s that comes from the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica. The symptoms can be felt along the nerve’s path. This could be the:
When the nerve is compressed, neurological symptoms can accompany the pain. These include:
If the thigh muscles are affected, weakness can be felt when bending or flexing the knee.
Weakness can be felt while attempting to bend the knee or pointing the foot/toes upward/downward. This can lead to foot drop, which makes lifting the front part of the foot when walking difficult. Difficulty can also present when getting up from a sitting position or walking on the tiptoes.
Loss of sensation can happen when the nerve impulses/transmissions cannot pass all the way through. Common areas affected by numbness are the:
This is an abnormal sensation felt on the skin. It is brought on by improper nerve transmission. This sensation can include:
The sciatic nerve can become:
Physical forces could affect the nerve following common conditions:
A disc in the lower back can bulge or herniate. This causes irritation that can lead to compression of a nerve root.
Stenosis means the opening where the sciatic nerve exit into the buttocks begins to get narrow in size. This creates a clog with the other nerve roots that compresses or irritates the sciatic nerve. Degenerative changes in the spine like the thickening of the facet joint capsules and/or ligaments can also compress the sciatic nerve.
Instability of a vertebral segment happens when one vertebra slips over the one below it, known as spondylolisthesis. There are also vertebral defects like spondylolysis which is a complete dislocation of one or more vertebrae. This can directly compress the sciatic nerve roots.
The body’s own chemicals can irritate the nerve causing inflammation. These chemical irritants include:
Glycosphingolipids which are fats, and neurofilaments which are protein polymers. They are secreted by the immune system and have been found to have high levels in individuals with sciatica. It is believed they are released in reaction to the nerve roots and exposed disc material. This can lead to inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
The physical characteristics of an individual can also affect the sciatic nerve. Research has shown an increased risk of sciatica in:
Individuals with certain jobs can have an increased risk of developing sciatica. Examples include:
This comes from:
Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are important for nerve health. Vitamin B12 supports the myelin sheath that covers and protects the nerves. It is important in nerve function and in transmitting impulses. Sciatica can present from vitamin B12 deficiency. However, this is more common in individuals 60+.
Clinical nutrition is a powerful tool to help alleviate sciatica. Many individuals can relieve their pain through diet adjustments. Here are a few diet tips to alleviate sciatic nerve pain through clinical nutrition:
Giuffre BA, Jeanmonod R. Anatomy, Sciatic Nerve. [Updated 2018 Dec 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482431/.
Heuch I, Heuch I, Hagen K, Zwart JA. Association between body height and chronic low back pain: a follow-up in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study [published correction appears in BMJ Open. 2015;5(10):e006983]. BMJ Open. 2015;5(6):e006983. Published 2015 Jun 15. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006983.
Kumar, M. Epidemiology, pathophysiology and symptomatic treatment of sciatica: A review. nt. J. Pharm. Bio. Arch. 2011, 2.
Quero L, Klawitter M, Schmaus A, et al. Hyaluronic acid fragments enhance the inflammatory and catabolic response in human intervertebral disc cells through modulation of toll-like receptor 2 signaling pathways. Arthritis Res Ther. 2013;15(4): R94. Published 2013 Aug 22. doi:10.1186/ar4274.
Shiri R, Lallukka T, Karppinen J, Viikari-Juntura E. Obesity as a Risk Factor for Sciatica: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2014;179(8):929-937. doi:10.1093/aje/kwu007.
The information herein on "The Sciatic Nerve" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
https://youtu.be/sOolG4CEBic On today’s podcast Spencer Salas and Dr. Alex Jimenez discuss CBD, TCH, and Hemp.… Read More
https://youtu.be/o348pjL26pE Dietary Supplement Quality Guide: Dr. Jimenez, Health coaches Adriana Caceres and Faith Arciniega, and… Read More
Back pain usually comes from lifting an object the wrong way or awkwardly moving the… Read More
Personal Injury, Trauma & Spine Rehab. Specialists