Sciatica refers to pain that travels from the buttocks and down the back of the thigh to the lower leg and feet. The pain is typically triggered by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve as it exits the spine.
The experience of sciatic pain can vary from sharp, burning, numb, or tingling sensation to a feeling of tension and tightness.
The location of the pain will also vary depending on the site of irritation or the underlying cause.
Pain can be felt anywhere along the outside of the hip, thigh, and/or lower leg. There may also be numbness in the webbing of the big toe.
Pain along the back of the buttocks, thigh and lower leg. There is possible numbness on the outside of the foot.
Sufferers of sciatica generally report that sitting, bending forward at the waist, standing, and/or driving are aggravating factors.
Lumbar Disc Herniation
A herniated disc occurs when the inner portion of the disc called the “nucleus pulposus” herniates or travels through the disc wall. The herniation of a lower back intervertebral disc can compress the spinal nerve root causing sciatic pain down the leg.
As one or more of the lower back intervertebral discs begin to degenerate due to aging or injury, proteins from inside the disc can be released and irritate the adjacent spinal nerves resulting in sciatic pain.
After the sciatic nerve leaves the lower back it travels under a deep muscle in the buttocks called the Piriformis. If the Piriformis becomes tight it can compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica-type pain. Piriformis syndrome is not considered a true form of sciatica.
Gluteus Minimus Trigger Point Referral
When the Gluteus Minimus (a butt muscle found on the outside of the hip) becomes injured or tight it can develop painful knots called trigger points. When active these trigger points can cause sciatica-type pain that travels from the outer hip down the outer thigh and leg to the ankle. Even though this is not a true form of sciatica, it is very common to see clinically.
At Poke Acupuncture we offer a very systematic treatment approach to sciatica. Treatment begins with a thorough western orthopedic and functional assessment of the spine, hips and muscles of the lower limbs.
Specific therapies will be chosen depending on your goals and assessment findings. Therapies may include: Neurofunctional acupuncture, dry needling, massage therapy, IASTM, and/or corrective exercises.
For more information or to book a appointment please contact us.
Ryan Samuels - Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist
Dutton, Mark, Dutton’s Orthopaedic Examination, Evaluation and Intervention (McGraw-Hill Companies, 3rd ed, 2012)
McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au.