The sciatic nerve is formed through a combination of motor and sensory fibers based on the spinal nerves of the lower back L4 to S3, known as the lumbosacral plexus. It is the largest and longest nerve in the human body and about as wide as an adult thumb. It begins at the base of the spine, runs along the back of each leg, and ends at the foot supplying the areas with fresh blood and nutrients. There are sciatic nerve branches that consist of primary branches and smaller branches.
From the popliteal fossa:
The sciatic nerve breaks off into smaller branches, known as collaterals, that include:
The sciatic nerve does not supply structures in the buttocks; however, pain commonly radiates/spreads into this area when the nerve is impaired, impinged, and inflamed.
The delivery of nutrients to the sciatic nerve is done through blood vessels that also contribute to the nerve’s function. Any interruption of blood flow to the sciatic nerve can cause pain and dysfunction. The sciatic nerve and the sciatic nerve branches receive their blood supply from two sources that include:
The combination of sensory and motor fibers that make up the sciatic nerve provides the essential functions in the lower limbs allowing the body to:
A healthy sciatic nerve is well protected around the low back and buttock muscles where it starts, and it cannot be palpated or felt by touching or pressing on the area. When the nerve gets inflamed, injured, or pinched, the leg can feel stiff and inflexible when trying to move and can lead to pain, weakness, and tingling in the lower back, buttock, leg/s, and feet.
Individuals can have variations in the anatomical structure of the sciatic nerve. These variations are considered normal, but they can increase the risk of developing sciatica brought on by impingement, entrapment, or irritation of the nerve root/s. Variations in sciatic nerve branches include:
The sciatic nerve and the sciatic nerve branches are significant components of the body. It supplies motor functions to move the legs and feet and provides sensory functions along the nerve path. Keeping the sciatic nerve healthy is key in helping to prevent back and spinal issues. Chiropractic can help realign the sciatic nerve and educate on maintaining the nerve’s health.
Individuals that don’t feel like returning to previous workout routines are recommended to try out other fitness options. If the gym isn’t cutting it or there is burnout with the current routine, switch things up. This can include:
Individuals may want to push it to the limit to get back into shape, but rest days are essential for healthy muscle development and improved performance.
It can be discouraging to commit to a workout schedule only to notice minor changes to strength and fitness.
Davis D, Vasudevan A. Sciatica. [Updated 2019 Feb 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507908/
Barral J, Croibier A. Manual Therapy for the Peripheral Nerves. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2007.
Ryan MM, Jones HR Jr. Mononeuropathies. In: Neuromuscular Disorders of Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence. Elsevier; 2015:243-273. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-417044-5.00014-7
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