Sciatica refers to radiating leg pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve bundle that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When something irritates or puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can cause pain in the lower back that spreads to the hip, buttocks, and leg. Up to 90% of people recover from sciatica without surgery with chiropractic care being the #1 choice for the lowest cost, most effective treatment yielding the highest patient satisfaction.
Up to 85% of Americans experience some type of back pain during their lives. But this doesn't always involve the sciatic nerve. In many cases, back pain is the result of overextending or straining the muscles in the lower back. What most often sets sciatica apart is the way the pain radiates down the leg past the knee. It may feel like a leg cramp that lasts for days, pressure, shock-like or tingling.
Inflammation to the nerves in the low back can be caused by trauma such as lifitg something too heavy, a slip and fall or arthritis. Inflammation irritates the nerves and mimicks a compressed nerve which can often be confused with a more serious problem. As inflammation subsides so do the leg symptoms.
The piriformis is a muscle found deep inside the buttocks. It connects the lower spine to the upper thighbone and runs directly over the sciatic nerve. If this muscle goes into spasm, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, triggering symptoms of sciatica. Piriformis syndrome is common and most overlooked by primary care providers.
Disks act like cushions between the vertebrae of your spine. A disk herniation is when the gel-like center of a disk pushes through its outer lining and presses on the roots of the sciatic nerve. About 1 in 50 people will get a herniated disk at some point in life. Up to a quarter of them will have symptoms that last more than 6 weeks.
Natural wear and tear of the vertebrae can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal. due to bone spurs, disk degeneration or congenital narrowing. This narrowing, called spinal stenosis, may put pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve. Spinal stenosis is more common in adults over age 60.
In very rare cases, sciatica may result from tumors growing inside or along the spinal cord or sciatic nerve. As a tumor grows, it may put pressure on the nerves that branch off from the spinal cord.
Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of one or both of the sacroiliac joints, the area where the lower spine connects to the pelvis. Sacroiliitis can cause pain in the buttocks, lower back, and may even extend down one or both legs. The pain can worsen with prolonged standing or climbing stairs. Sacroiliitis can be caused by arthritis, injury, pregnancy, or infection.
What to do next
If you suffer from leg pain and/or back pain then please schedule an appoitnment immediately with our office. A thourough examination and history will be needed to determine the nature of your symptoms and a plan to cure it. Sciatica can be a very complex and frustrating condition if not handled appropriately.
Our "brand" of treatment yields the best results because we start with the most effective and least aggressive therapy working our way through complete resolution. We may use massage therapy, spinal manipulation and functional rehab to treat the condition. If we need more invasive treatments, we have great doctors who can perform nerve tests, spinal injections and surgery if needed.
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