What is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to back pain caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerves is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. When this nerve is injured or pressure is put on it, it can cause pain in the lower back that radiates to the hip, buttocks and one or both legs.
Sciatica is characterized by pain in the lower back that radiates down one or both legs. The pain is described as dully, achy, sharp, pins and needles or similar to electric shocks. Other symptoms associated with sciatica include burning, numbness and tingling sensations. Sciatic nerve pain varies in intensity from mild to severe, and frequency may range from occasional to constant. The onset is generally gradual and not necessarily associated with a precipitating event.
Sciatica is also known as radiating or referred pain, neuropathy, or neuralgia.
What causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is usually caused by sciatic nerve compression. The nerve compression can happen for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common reasons: lumbar spine subluxation (misaligned vertebrae), herniated or bulging discs, pregnancy, and childbirth, tumors as well as non-spinal disorders; such as, diabetes, constipation or sitting on one’s back pocket wallet. Another common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome.
Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscles that are located in the lower part of the spine which connects to the thigh bone and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is prone to injury from a slip and fall incident, hip arthritis or a difference in leg length. These situations can cause cramping and spasms to develop in the piriformis muscle resulting in pinching the sciatic nerve and causing inflammation and pain. Sciatic nerve compression may result in the loss of feeling (sensory loss), paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles (monoplegia), and insomnia.
How do you diagnose Sciatica?
Bay Point Chiropractic regularly treats sciatica and knowledgeable in this area. Since there are many disorders that cause sciatica, INSERT PRACTICE NAME will determine what is the root cause of your sciatica by taking a thorough patient history, physical and neurological exam. In some instances, diagnostic testing might be necessary; such as an x-ray, MRI, CT scan and/or electrodiagnostic test (electromyography). These examinations and tests help to detect possible contraindications to spinal adjustments and other chiropractic therapies.
A sciatica treatment plan may include several different chiropractic modalities listed below:
– Ice/Cold Therapies: An ice pack may be applied to the lower back for 15 minutes every few hours to help reduce associated muscle pain, muscle spasm, and sciatic nerve inflammation. It is important to wrap a thin towel around the ice pack to avoid putting the cold pack directly on the skin.
– Ultrasound: a gentle heat created by sound waves that penetrate deep into tissues. Ultrasound increases circulation and helps to reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain.
– TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation): a small box-like, battery-powered, portable muscle stimulation machine. It offers variable intensities of electrical current to control acute pain and reduce muscle spasms. The larger versions of the TENS units are used by chiropractors, physical therapists, and other rehab professionals.
– Spinal adjustments (spinal manipulation): Spinal adjustments free restricted movement of the spine and help restore misaligned vertebrae to their proper position. Adjustments also help reduce nerve irritability responsible for causing inflammation, muscle spasms, pain and other symptoms related to sciatica. Spinal manipulation is proven to be safe, effective and pain-free. This type of therapy sets chiropractors apart in the medical community.
– Stretching/exercise: It is beneficial to gently stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles to help assist optimal biomechanical functioning to the trunk and legs. Walking and riding a stationary bike are gentle exercises that will similarly assist in the recovery process.
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