What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body and it runs from the lower back, down the legs and ends just below the knee. Sciatica is often associated with general back pain, but it is capable of affecting much more than just the back. According to Medical News Today, some experts say that up to 40% of people will experience sciatica at some point in their lifetime.
Sciatica is a result of a problem occurring within the sciatic nerve. This nerve controls muscles in the lower legs and the sensations to the skin of the foot and majority of the lower leg. This particular condition is characterized by a pain that originates in the low back or buttock, and then the pain travels into one or both legs. Sciatic nerve pain varies in intensity and frequency:
- Severe and occasional
- Frequent or constant
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The main symptom of Sciatica is a shooting pain along the sciatic nerve, which can range from your lower back to your lower leg areas. Other symptoms include:
- Numbness in the leg
- Tingling sensations in your feet/toes
The pain from Sciatica can range from mild to severe, depending on the person and their condition, but all symptoms of Sciatica can be aggravated after sitting for a long period of time. Because sciatica is not a disorder, but instead a symptom of another problem, it can be difficult to diagnose what is causing the patient’s sciatica. Forming a diagnosis involves a thorough review of the patient's medical history, and a physical and neurological examination. Diagnostic testing may include:
- CT scan
- Electrodiagnostic tests (nerve conduction velocity, electromyography)
These examinations and tests help to detect possible contraindications to spinal adjustments and other chiropractic therapies.
Sciatica is generally caused by sciatic nerve compression, which may result in sensory loss - the loss of feeling, monoplegia - paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles, and insomnia.
Another common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle, which is located in the lower part of the spine and connects to the thigh bone, assisting with hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle, which makes this muscle more susceptible to injury, hip arthritis or a difference in leg length. These situations can cause a spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve and causing inflammation and pain.
- Disorders known to cause sciatic nerve pain include:
- Lumbar Spine Subluxations (misaligned vertebra)
- Herniated or Bulging Discs (slipped discs)
- Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Sitting on one's back pocket wallet
Through chiropractic treatment, there are many ways to reduce pain from Sciatica. This is based on the scientific principle that restricted spinal movement leads to pain and reduced function and performance. Here, at Auburn Chiropractic Associates, our care is non-invasive/non-surgical and drug-free. Through exercises, stretching and other treatments such as: ice/cold therapies, ultrasound, TENS, and spinal adjustments (sometimes called spinal manipulation), chiropractic treatments are proven to help help the body's potential to heal itself.
- Ice/Cold therapy is known to reduce inflammation and helps to control sciatic pain.
- Ultrasound therapy is gentle heat created by sound waves that penetrates deep into tissues. It increases circulation and helps to reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain.
- TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a small box-like, battery-powered, portable muscle stimulation machine. It contains different levels of intensities of electrical current control acute pain and is used to reduce muscle spasms.
- Spinal manipulation/Spinal adjustment are at the core of chiropractic care. Manipulation frees restricted movement of the spine and helps to restore misaligned vertebral bodies to their proper position in the spinal column. This helps to reduce nerve irritability responsible for causing inflammation, muscle spasm, pain, and other symptoms related to sciatica. Adjustments should not be painful and spinal manipulation is proven to be safe and effective.
Auburn Chiropractic Associates offers a proactive approach to diagnosing and relieving a number of neuromusculoskeletal problems. We are committed to educating our patients about not only their injuries and treatment plans but also about the preventative measures that patients can use to manage their overall well-being. Our team at Auburn Chiropractic Associates treat patients of all ages with a wide range of health conditions. We take the time to get to know you and your needs in order to provide individualized treatment plans that ensure you receive quality care with excellent outcomes. If you find yourself struggling with sciatica pain, or another issue contact us at (334) 826-2225.