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What is sciatica?


The diagnosis of sciatica can be misleading. The original intent was that sciatica was a diagnosis given to people with irritation of their sciatic nerve, a large nerve that passes through the buttock area. The reality is that there are many different problems that can create “sciatic” pain.

The pain patterns associated with sciatica may include the lower back, buttocks, tailbone, hip, back or side of the leg. May extend into the foot and may be associated with numbness or tingling. That’s a lot of areas and the way people present in the clinic varies dramatically.

What causes sciatica?

Problems that can cause sciatic pain include but are not limited to:

·       Sciatic nerve compression by the muscles in the buttock region

·       Spinal disc herniation compressing a nerve root

·       Gluteal or deep hip muscle spasm or trigger points

·       Lower back muscle spasm or trigger points

·       Lumbar joint dysfunction/ facet syndrome

·       Sacro-iliac joint dysfunction/ SI syndrome

·       Poor blood circulation to the legs (vascular claudication)

·       Nerve compression by bone spurs (neurogenic claudication)

Some of the causes on this list aren’t due to nerve compression. Pain spreading into the leg can sometimes be due to pain referral from muscle or joints and not always from nerve irritation.

Using the term “sciatica” as a diagnosis is similar to using “headache” as a diagnosis.  You still need to determine the actual cause. 

Sciatica pain relieve procedure
Sciatica pain

How is sciatica treated?

Since there are many causes of sciatica, the treatment will differ for each possible diagnosis.

The chiropractors at MSK Clinics are experts in the diagnosis and management of the majority of causes of sciatica.

They will help you by performing a detailed history and physical exam. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, the treatment can be tailored to your condition and your results can be maximized.  Also, your expectations will be appropriate to the condition.

When imaging such as X-rays or MRI, or consultation with a medical doctor or specialist is warranted, the appropriate referrals will be made so that all the necessary pieces are in place to maximize your care.  Likewise, you may also be referred to a physiotherapist or massage therapist if their skills will be helpful.
If you are having pain in a sciatica-type of pattern, book an appointment with one of our chiropractors and get to the root of the problem.

Treatment Locations

MSK Clinics Kitsilano


2880 West 4th ave. #101
Vancouver, BC  V6K 1R2

P: 604–224–7325

MSK Clinics Downtown


1033 Davie Street, Suite 410
Vancouver, BC  V6E 1M7

P: 604-689-9308

our burnaby physiotherapist help burnaby resident to improve their health


305-4603 Kingsway
Metrotown Burnaby, BC V5H 4M4

P: 604–438–6106

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