What is Sciatica?
Have you ever had pain run down the back of your leg? That pain in your butt could be sciatica. Sciatica is pain caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a bundle of nerves that starts in the low back, goes down the buttock, into the back of the thigh, and down the back of the lower leg.
Cause of Pain in Lower Back and Leg Pain
Pressure or irritation to the sciatic nerve results in the pain called sciatica. Pain in the back of the leg is the most common symptom of sciatica. This pain is often described as shooting, but it can also be like a dull toothache. Some people with sciatica have constant pain. With others it tends to come and go. Many people have low back pain before they experience sciatica, but some people only have the leg pain of sciatica. As you can see, the symptoms of sciatica can vary from very severe to only mildly annoying. With almost all cases of sciatica, the pain is worse with prolonged sitting, such as sitting at a computer or driving.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Sources
Where does pressure on the sciatic nerve come from? Because the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, pressure can be placed on it at many locations. Disc bulges can place pressure on the sciatic nerve in the back and cause low back pain and sciatica. The piriformis muscle, located deep in the buttocks, can become too tight and put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Pressure from the piriformis muscle usually causes sciatica that starts in the buttock or upper thigh. A misalignment of the lumbar vertebrae in the low back can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Finally, spinal degeneration from long-standing back problems can also put pressure on and irritate the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica Risk Factors
How can you tell if you might be at risk for developing sciatica? If you have a job that requires lots of lifting or long hours in a car or truck, you are at a higher risk for developing sciatica. However, many people with no risk factors will develop sciatica for no apparent reason. If you are currently experiencing leg pain or low back pain, there are some at home checks you can perform to determine if it might be sciatica.
- Does coughing or sneezing make the pain worse or cause it to shoot down the leg?
- When standing, does the foot on the side with sciatica turn out significantly more than the other foot?
- When sitting, if you straighten out the leg with sciatica, does the pain get worse?
Do you have any tender spots in the buttocks or low back that when pressed on cause the pain to shoot down the leg? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might be suffering from sciatica. Your Doctor of Chiropractic will be able to fully assess your problem and accurately determine where the pressure on your sciatic nerve is coming from. Don’t wait too long to have your problem assessed. Sciatica is easier to treat early, but can usually be helped even if it is a long-standing problem.
Treatment for Sciatica
What are the treatment options for sciatica? The goal of chiropractic treatment for sciatica is to find where the pressure on the sciatic nerve is, and remove it. Chiropractic adjustments reduce pressure from vertebral misalignments and spinal degeneration. The adjustments also help to reduce pressure from disc bulges. Specific muscle stretching can reduce pressure from the piriformis muscle. Physical therapeutics, such as ice, ultrasound, and muscle stimulation, can be used by your chiropractor to reduce the pain and tenderness in sciatica. By treating and removing the cause of the pressure on the sciatic nerve, the pain and symptoms of sciatica usually resolve quickly.
Sciatica Chiropractic Appointments in the Edwardsville, IL Area
To determine if chiropractic care could help you manage your sciatica, or to speak with a chiropractor in the Edwardsville, IL area, call Dr. Emily Brueggeman at 618-692-0000 . Ask for a free Invitation to Health that includes a consultation and screening to determine if yours is a chiropractic case.