Sciatica and How Chiropractic Care Can Help
By Natalie Jewell
Sciatica is a royal pain in the butt. Literally! I've suffered from it and it's one of the most painful things I've experienced -- and I've given birth twice. If you've ever experienced intense numbing pain that runs from your backside down to your ankle, it was probably sciatica. If you've not yet dealt with it, consider yourself lucky. Either way, it doesn't hurt to know more about it so you're able to recognize it when you've got it and know what to do about it if you're already dealing with it.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica occurs when the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the human body, become compressed and irritated. This nerve, which connects the spinal cord to the muscles in the legs and feet, runs down each side of the lower spine, through the buttock, and all the way down the legs to the feet.
Causes of Sciatica
One of the most common causes of sciatica is having a herniated disc, which is a condition which affects the discs between the vertebrae in your spine. If a tear occurs in one of the discs, often due to aging or injury, and some of the protective, gelatinous inner portion seeps out, the nerves surrounding it can become irritated and cause pain.
Some of the other disorders that may cause sciatic pain include spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within your spine), osteophytes (bone spurs), and arthritis in the spine. If there are tumors around the spine, the sciatic nerve can be affected as well. Pregnancy, with the uterus expanding and pushing against the spine, may cause sciatica as well.
Some of the symptoms of sciatica are as follows:
- Sharp, stabbing pain in the buttocks which radiates down the leg
- The pain is just felt down along one side of the body
- Is usually worse when standing or sitting still, and feels better lying down or walking
- Movements that cause the spine to flex, such as knee-to-chest exercises, increase pain
Treatment Options for Sciatica
The first step is to see your family doctor to rule out any other condition that could be causing you pain and to confirm sciatica as a diagnosis. Your doctor may recommend taking frequent breaks from sitting, alternating between ice and heat therapy, taking over-the-counter or prescription medications to reduce pain and inflammation, stretching and doing low-impact exercise, or physiotherapy. The majority of time, sciatica symptoms will get better with time without surgery. Alternatively, you may find relief from such treatments as acupuncture, massage therapy, or chiropractic care.
The chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic can help you with that last one! A doctor of chiropractic can safely manipulate your spine to achieve maximum spinal mobility and restore restricted vertebral bodies to their proper position. These spinal adjustments help reduce irritability of the sciatic nerve, thus reducing inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain.
So, if you're bummed about having sciatica, give The Joint Chiropractic a call today. You'll be glad you did.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Pasadena.