Sciatica is a condition that often causes debilitating pain or tingling in the back of the thighs, bottom, or lower spine. It may also cause muscle weakness, numbness, burning sensations, and a reflex impairment.

This condition is directly related to problems with the sciatic nerve, which is made up of multiple nerve roots that come together in the pelvis. It is the largest nerve in the body and can be up to 2 cm in diameter. You can generally distinguish sciatica from other causes of back or thigh pain because of the way it radiates down the leg from the lower back, following the path of the nerve. Symptoms of sciatica differ slightly depending on which nerve root is affected, which helps us diagnose the cause of the condition and treat it directly.

Although sciatica can affect multiple parts of the body, we’ve placed it in the thigh category because the sciatic nerve sends direct motor function to the hamstring. It also provides indirect motor function to the lower leg muscles and select foot muscles.

Most often, sciatica is caused by an inflammation of the sciatic nerve. Any condition or situation that impacts the structure of the nerve, or causes compression of the nerve,


can trigger sciatica symptoms. In our athletic clientele, we sometimes see football players suffering from sciatic pain as a result of direct exterior force to the sciatic nerve. Aside from incidents like these, where traumatic force plays a part, we rarely see sciatica in younger patients.

Many cases of sciatica are caused by a herniated disc. Lumbar intervertebral discs often degenerate and weaken with age, which explains why sciatica is most common in patients in their 40s.

Occasionally, spasms and inflammation in thigh, lumbar, or pelvic muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve can compress the nerve and bring on sciatica symptoms.

When we’re treating sciatica, we want to figure out exactly what is causing it in order to effectively solve the problem for good. In general, we want to remove any pressure from the sciatic nerve. This might mean implementing a routine of exercises that will strengthen the core muscles, or regular light exercises like swimming.

After consulting with individual patients, we may decide to reteach proper lifting, stretching, and posture to help change any habits that might be worsening symptoms. We might also use some of the innovative treatments at MOTUS to alleviate symptoms, such as shockwave therapy, NMES, or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.


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