As you can see from the diagram above true sciatica more often than not originates in the spine. Your sciatic nerve is made up of a number of spinal nerves that descend together down the leg. Irritation of any of these spinal nerves can cause irritation and symptoms in the sciatic nerve.
Your spinal joints lie just behind your main nerves that exit through the spine. If your joints are unhappy they can become inflamed and irritate the nerve, this can affect the ability of your brain to receive vital messages from your leg and to send vital messages down the nerve to your leg. Nerve irritation can also give you sciatic pain which can go along the length of the sciatic nerve all the way to your foot.
If you spinal joints have been dysfunctional for some time this can lead to stress on your spinal discs which can in turn can make a disc injury more likely. Your spinal disc sits directly in front of the major nerve that exits from the spine. So just like joint inflammation, disc inflammation can cause irritation to your spinal nerves and then your sciatic nerve. Disc injuries can be very small (annular tear) or more significant (full prolapse) but either way they can irritate the spinal nerves depending on how much inflammation occurs.
Therefore in order to help you with your sciatic nerve pain we often need to reduce the irritation and inflammation in and around the spinal nerves that go on to make up the Sciatic nerve. This means we have to address any dysfunction in the joints and discs of the spine. If the spine is happier, the nerves that exit the spine will be happier, inflammation will decrease and so will your nerve pain. The key is finding the cause of the irritation (often the spinal joints) and not just attempting to treat the symptoms.
As Chiropractors we aim to improve the function of the unhappy spinal joints by the application gentle and specific hands on techniques called Chiropractic Adjustments which stimulate normal nerve reflexes local to the spinal joints and allow the joints to function better and to begin healing.
Happy joints = happy nerves = happy body = happy brain