What Could Be Causing Your Sciatica?

Abbie SawyerThe Research, Your Best Life

Sciatica is a painful condition that affects millions of people worldwide, with an estimated prevalence of 10-40% in the general population most commonly in people aged 40-50 years old (1). Sciatica refers to the pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down to the legs and feet, and when it gets compressed or irritated, it can cause a variety of symptoms.

There are several reasons why someone may develop sciatica, including irritation/compression from:

  1. Herniated Disc
  2. Age related changes: spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis
  3. Piriformis Syndrome
  4. Trauma

The symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person, but may include pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet. Pain intensity is not a good indicator for severity of the condition. Nerves that are irritated can be extremely painful, but tend to have predictable presentations. Nerves that are truly compressed can affect multiple dermatomes, create loss for feeling, and cause significant weakness of the legs. These are all signs of a more serious condition.

Impact on Work:

Sciatica can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to work. In a study of 503 patients with sciatica, 38% reported being unable to work due to their symptoms, and 25% reported missing more than 30 days of work (2). 

It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica. When symptoms present, taking an active approach to care by seeking help sooner rather than later can reduce the overall time needed to get better. Chiropractors and physical therapists can help diagnose the underlying cause and develop a personalized treatment plan that works best for you.


Typical treatment of sciatica typically involves a combination of chiropractic/physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication (if necessary) for pain management. If you were to go to an urgent care or the emergency room, you would more than likely be given any combination of muscle relaxants, corticosteroids, and advised to take it easy. As chiros and PT’s, we offer more beneficial movements and exercises that can help resolve symptoms faster. In severe cases, surgery may be required to relieve the compression on the sciatic nerve.

If you feel as though you may be suffering from this condition, we’re here to help! Call us at 515-421-4018 to get scheduled with one of our chiropractors or physical therapist. Life is too short to live with pain!


  1. Konstantinou, K., & Dunn, K. M. (2008). Sciatica: review of epidemiological studies and prevalence estimates. Spine, 33(22), 2464-2472.
  2. Pinto, R. Z., Maher, C. G., Ferreira, M. L., Ferreira, P. H., Hancock, M., Oliveira, V. C., … & Koes, B. (2018). Epidural corticosteroid injections in the management of sciatica: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 166(8), 572-582.

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