Sciatica describes persistent pain felt along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, down through the buttock, and into the lower leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body, running from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. It controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet. The discs between the spinal bones of the lower back are often involved.
The most common symptom associated with sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back and down one leg; however, symptoms can vary widely depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected. Some may experience a mild tingling, a dull ache, or even a burning sensation, typically on one side of the body and some patients also report; pins-and-needles sensation, most often in the toes or foot and/or Numbness or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot.
Pain from sciatica often begins slowly, gradually intensifying over time. In addition, the pain can worsen after prolonged sitting, sneezing, coughing, bending, or other sudden movements.
Sciatica occurs most frequently in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Most often, it tends to develop as a result of general wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine, not as a result of injury. Years of bad posture, poor muscle tone, excess weight or countless other causes sets the stage. Then, something simple like bending over to tie your shoes can trigger an episode. Spinal degeneration can be another culprit. Instead of disc thinning that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve roots, arthritic bone spurs can intrude into the space normally reserved for the nerve. It’s easy to trace some spinal problems to an event, such as a car accident. Yet, sciatica is often the result of cumulative damage.
For most people, sciatica responds very well to conservative chiropractic care. Treatment plans will often vary depending on the underlying cause of the problem.
Chiropractic offers a non-invasive (non-surgical), drug-free treatment option. The goal of chiropractic care is to restore spinal movement, thereby improving function while decreasing pain and inflammation. Depending on the cause of the sciatica, a chiropractic treatment plan may cover several different treatment methods, including but not limited to spinal adjustments, ice/heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, traction, stretching, and rehabilitative exercises.
Fortunately, improving joint motion in the lower back with a program of chiropractic adjustments has produced results for millions.
Most of my sciatica patients are delighted with the results they get after weeks or months of care. Naturally, this varies from patient to patient. After a relapse or two, many discover that years of neglect have produced spinal instabilities that never fully heal. These patients elect to continue with periodic chiropractic checkups.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain proper posture
- Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest
- Use good body mechanics when lifting
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