The sciatic nerve is thickest nerve in the body, branching out from the lower back, through the hips, back of thighs, and legs. It can sometimes become trapped (mostly in the lower back section) and lead to symptoms such as pain in the lower back, hips, thighs or legs, as well as numbness, weakness and pins and needles.
Pain in the legs caused by the sciatic nerve is most likely due to pinching of this nerve. Although it is most likely to become trapped in the lower back region, it can also become pinched while passing through the hips. That being said, some of the more common causes of the nerve becoming trapped include:
- Lower back disc herniation or bulge. When a disc protrudes out of its anatomical space, it can press against nearby nerve roots, such as the sciatic nerve. This can irritate the nerve and trigger sensations of pain and/or other symptoms.
- Bone spurs, which are bone formations that can form across the spine. Similar to bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs can press against the sciatic nerve and irritate it.
- Piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle, which is located in the buttock region, a region through which the sciatic nerve also passes, can sometimes squeeze the sciatic nerve and cause pain.
- Bad posture. The way our spine is positioned can sometimes place increased pressure on the sciatic nerve. One example is sitting down at a desk for prolonged periods of time, where the sciatic nerve can become compressed.
- Lower back strain from repetitive movements. Repeatedly bending or twisting the spine may increase the chance of nerve roots becoming trapped and irritated.
- High body weight. Excessive body weight can exert additional pressure on the back, hips, and legs, and can potentially pinch the sciatic nerve.
- Compression of the spine. Due to activities that we carry out day-to-day, our spine is exposed to physical stressors and pressure, which can accumulate and gradually lead the spine to become pressed down and stay in that state, unless the process is manually reversed.
If left untreated, sciatic nerve pain in the leg can become unpleasant to deal with on a daily basis, and can sometimes even lead to other complications such as weakness in the legs or even walking difficulties.
Sciatica doesn’t always need treatment, even when it causes symptoms in the leg, and it can sometimes go away with time and minor lifestyle adjustments such as rest and avoiding activities that can worsen sciatica. To ease the symptoms and ensure sciatica is addressed, there are a few home remedies and non-invasive treatments you can consider, including:
- Pain relieving medication. Although this is not a long-term solution, it can help temporarily ameliorate the pain.
- Stretching to relieve tightness in the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs.
- Physiotherapy for mobilisation of the spine and legs.
To ensure that symptoms are completely relieved and are not going to return, it is best to target the root of the problem and free the sciatic nerve from the structure that trapped it.
Most likely the sciatic nerve has become trapped due to compression of the spine, as this problem is also likely to cause other back problems, such as disc herniation, which is also a cause of sciatica. In this case, reversing compression of the spine is highly likely to get rid of the symptoms in the long term, as the source is being addressed.
One way to reverse compression is through its reverse process, which is decompression therapy, a treatment modality that stretches out the spine, removing the accumulate pressure and returning the spine to is original length. You can now decompress your spine from home with the help of a device that is simple to use, as it only requires your own body weight. That device is called the Backrack.