The Relationship Between Scoliosis and Sciatica Pain

The Relationship Between Scoliosis and Sciatic Pain

Scoliosis is a spinal condition that leads to a curvature that can cause pinching and constriction along the vertebrae.

Sciatic pain is a source of extreme discomfort and sensitivity along the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the lower lumbar spine, leading down near the heel of both legs. 

So, what is the relationship between scoliosis and sciatic pain? Since scoliosis pinches and compresses the spine indirectly through unnatural curvature, it can squeeze the sciatic nerve. This squeezing produces troubling sciatic pain that can often be debilitating for people who have scoliosis.

Sciatica pain

The symptoms of sciatic nerve pain can be similar to the symptoms of scoliosis. If you want to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments of scoliosis and sciatic nerve pain, read on.

What Is the Relationship Between Scoliosis and Sciatic Nerve Pain?

The relationship between scoliosis and sciatic pain is a rather clear one. Scoliosis curves the spine at awkward angles, putting immense pressure on random areas throughout the back. If this area happens to be on or near the sciatic nerve, it can cause sciatic pain. 

Sciatic pain caused by scoliosis is more common in patients who are 30 years of age or older. This increased likelihood of pain exists because the spine in older people is fully developed, meaning small changes can cause sudden and unexpected results. When the spine doesn’t continue growing or moving, it settles right onto the nerve, causing the pain.

However, sciatic nerve pain isn’t exclusive to adults. Adolescents with a growing spine can have a pinched nerve that seemingly forms overnight if they already have a spinal curvature present. Fortunately, it can be treated at this age through chiropractic examinations, tests, and adjustments that tend to work quicker on young patients.

Pinched Nerve

People of all ages can experience a pinched sciatic nerve caused by the natural progression of scoliosis. Once the nerve is pinched, there are plenty of uncomfortable symptoms that the patient can experience. Proper treatment is the key to relief, which means someone suffering from sciatic nerve pain should seek professional medical help as soon as possible.

What Causes Sciatic Pain?

There are many causes of sciatic pain other than scoliosis. These causes include the following:

  • A herniated disk pinching down on the nerve.
  • A misaligned vertebrae that isn’t correct quickly.
  • Muscle swelling and inflammation. 

The Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain

As the sciatic nerve runs from the lower back to the bottom of both legs, the pain usually centers in these areas. The severity of the pain varies from case to case, but it’s generally known as one of the most debilitating nerve issues in the back. The mobility of patients suffering from this pain can be limited, even when doing simple tasks.

Here is a comprehensive list of the symptoms that sciatic nerve damage can cause:

  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the lower back are all often symptoms that something’s wrong with the sciatic nerve. While it might start slow, these symptoms usually progress to be much more severe and uncomfortable over time. They also can be accompanied by unexpected difficulty when bending over.
  • Severe foot pain is not usually thought of as something related to the lower back, but it absolutely can be. Patients often believe that a foot injury or something similar must be the cause of their foot pain, but that’s not always the case. Sciatic nerve pain can stretch all over the lower body, including through the feet.
  • Difficulty walking is another common symptom. Since the sciatic nerve sits mostly in the lower back, the pain can centralize in your legs, restricting your movement.
  • A burning sensation in the upper legs, lower back, buttocks, and calves are another common symptom of sciatic nerve damage. It may feel like your skin is on fire or as if you had a muscle strain. Some patients also report a light tense feeling as if their muscles were being constricted.

Sciatic nerve pain and damage - whether it’s caused by scoliosis or not - can cause severe disability. Fortunately, there are a number of reliable treatments in the medical industry. 

As with all problems caused by scoliosis, it’s easier to treat these problems and even rid them entirely if you can catch them before they get too severe.

What Are the Treatments for Sciatic Pain Caused by Scoliosis?

Various treatments can lead to the relief of pain caused by sciatic nerve damage. 

In most cases, sciatic nerve pain is much simpler to treat when the pain is caused by scoliosis, since a surgical procedure usually isn’t required. 

Once a doctor or another medical professional determines that scoliosis is the cause of the nerve pain, they can move forward to a set of four common treatments.

Keep in mind that pain medication is never a cure on its own. In fact, it can mask the symptoms to make the patient think that the issue is gone when it’s actually growing even worse. 

While medication might be part of the treatment process to help ease the pain, it is never going to correct the spinal misalignment and curvature caused by scoliosis.

Treatments for Sciatic Pain.

Here are the four treatments that doctors typically use to ease sciatic pain caused by scoliosis:

Chiropractic Adjustments

  • Chiropractic adjustments are a conventional treatment for scoliosis. It relieves the tension and pressure applied to the sciatic nerve, reducing pain after only a few sessions in many causes. Straightening out the spine and removing that pressure is one of the most effective treatments available.

Exercises and Stretches

  • Exercises and stretches that are recommended by a doctor are another practical set of treatments. You can perform them at home or with a personal trainer for the best results. These stretches allow the spine to adjust and straighten out by soothing the muscle tissue around it.

Back Braces

  • Back braces are another form of treatment suggested by many medical professionals. It would be best if you didn’t settle for any ordinary generic back brace on the internet, though. They can worsen the problem over time. Instead, you should opt for a custom-fit 3D back brace designed just for you.

Medication

  • The final form of treatment to use in conjunction with the rest is medication. Although we previously mentioned that medicine could not tackle the problem on its own, it’ll certainly help to relieve pain while the brace, exercises, and adjustments do their work. Once you see real relief without the medication, you can quit this form of treatment.

Why is Sciatic Pain Found Throughout the Lower Body?

The vertebra that the scoliosis impacts determines where you feel pain.

For example, the knee can have severe pain if the L3 on your spine is affected by scoliosis. L4 generally sends pain to the top of the foot, and L5 causes issues with the feet and calves alike.

The nervous system follows a path that goes downward, which is why you won’t typically experience sciatic pain in the upper body. It can lead to other nerve damage that might eventually progress upward, though.

Conclusion

There is a clear relationship between sciatic pain and scoliosis. Scoliosis can curve the spine at various angles, some of which can place pressure on the sciatic nerve. This pressure can cause sciatic nerve pain. 

Sciatic nerve pain can present in a variety of ways:

  • Severe pain in the foot
  • Difficulty walking
  • A burning sensation in the upper legs, lower back, buttocks, and calves
  • Pain, numbness, or tingling in the lower back
  • Difficulty when bending over.

Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments that can help with sciatic nerve pain caused by scoliosis. Chiropractic adjustments, exercises and stretches, back braces, and medication can all provide relief to patients suffering from scoliosis-induced sciatic pain. 

If you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain, talk to your doctor and ask if scoliosis is a potential cause. If it is, you’ll want to treat it immediately to relieve your pain and prevent further degeneration of the spine. 

At CLEAR Scoliosis Institute we can can provide information about a treatment plan that would be best for you. For more information, please contact a CLEAR Certified Doctor. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Additional Resources:

Author: Dr. J Hartley

Dr. J Hartley, known as Dr. J, was diagnosed with scoliosis as a young teenager. In the 1970’s, the options given were watch and wait, or surgery. Faced with these two options, no treatment was provided. Not until his own 12-year-old was faced with progressive scoliosis did he find the CLEAR Institute. His daughter visited the CLEAR Institute in St. Cloud, MN for Intensive Care and had good results. She could return to running and soccer. Dr. J decided to return for Intensive Care for himself and the rest is history. He has now been focused on scoliosis detection, prevention, and reduction for over 6 years. Dr. J graduated from the Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa in 1992. He became a Board Chiropractic Neurologist in 1995 and a Board Certified Intensive Care Scoliosis Doctor in 2015.
Reach out to Dr. J Hartley

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CLEAR Scoliosis Centers are privately owned and operated chiropractic clinics. Doctors at CLEAR Scoliosis Centers are personally responsible for all clinical decision making. CLEAR Scoliosis Institute, a nonprofit organization, does not have any authority over the clinic, make any clinical recommendations, or dictate patient care.
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