If you have pain that is in your lower back, buttocks, and legs, the words sciatic or sciatica probably make you cringe. Back and nerve pain comes in many forms and levels of severity but true sciatica is typically more severe. It may be a challenge to identify the source of your pain, but with the right professional helping you, they can assist in not only identifying whether you really have sciatica and treat it.
Sciatica can be confused with other back, joint or ligament issues, so it’s important to know the signs. Here are some indications that you may have sciatic nerve pain:
1. Pain in Lower Back and Buttock Area– You might feel the discomfort almost anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it’s especially likely to follow a path from your lower back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf.
2. Sharp Pain Radiating Down One Leg – Pain, usually sharp, stabbing pain or numbnes, radiates on one side from your lower back into the back of your leg, all the way down to your heel or foot.
3. Difficulty Sitting – Leg pain that worsens when sitting due to compression of the nerve as it travels though your glute muscles, or compression by a bulging disc in your lower spine.
4. Trouble Standing Up – You may experience intense pain when you try to stand up. This can happen due to weakness of the glute or hamstring muscles. But it can also due to protective muscle guarding .
5. Numbness – There can be numbness, tingling, and weakness in your leg or foot, depending on how and where the nerve is being compressed.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve – a very long nerve which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg – becomes compressed or pinched. This can be caused by a bulging or herniated disk in your spine or by an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) on your vertebrae. More commonly, it can occur from muscle spasms associated with hip or low back strains and sprains. In rare cases, the sciatic nerve can be compressed by the narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or by a growth or tumor. The sciatic nerve can also become damaged by an injury, or by a disease that damages nerves, such as diabetes.
How We Diagnose Sciatica
Through a combination of traditional evaluations – such as a physical exam and scans if needed – and kinesiology – or manual muscle testing – we are able to determine if the cause of your pain is indeed a pinched or compressed sciatic nerve, or a more localized nerve irritation or inflammation that mimics some of the same symptoms.
How Chiropractic Care Treats Sciatica and Other Nerve Pain
Whether your condition is actually sciatica or a condition that causes similar symptoms, chiropractic care can help relieve nerve pain symptoms. While the common medical approach is to treat nerve pain with injections, drugs or, in more severe cases, surgery, chiropractic treatment aims to help the body heal itself with drug-free, non-invasive treatments. Here are some of the treatment methods chiropractic can offer for sciatica and other nerve pain:
- Spinal Manipulation – This treatment is used to improve the mobility and stability of the spine in order to reduce pressure on and irritation of the nerves.
- Spinal Decompression – Spinal vertebrae are gently separated to relieve pressure on discs and the nerves that exit the spine.
- Neurokinetic Therapy – This treatment is widely used for muscular ailments and injuries. It is one of the most common complementary techniques for evaluating and treating lower back pain.
- Chiropractic Exercises – We will provide stretching and strengthening exercises for you to do between appointments.
- Good Posture – We will provide advice on how to move and maintain good posture to improve healing and mobility.
- Diet – We will recommend a diet rich in nutrients that support nerve health and overall well-being.
- A Holistic Approach – Unlike many practitioners in the medical field, Chiropractors look at all aspects of your life. Our guidance will help you improve your lifestyle and help you keep your entire musculoskeletal system in good shape. This is very important because the stronger your system is, the less likely pressure and irritation of the nerves will occur. In this way, we can help prevent and easy may nerve pain issues, but in the short and long term
Sciatic nerve pain can be incapacitating but there is no reason you should have to tolerate it. With proper chiropractic evaluation and treatment, you can get the relief you need without costly procedures or harmful side effects, so you can get back to enjoying your life.