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What You Need to Know About Sciatic Pain

Sciatica is a radiculopathy–a syndrome (pain) that radiates from the spine along the path of the sciatic nerve. This nerve begins with spinal nerve roots, goes through the low back and buttocks, down the back of each thigh, ending at your knee. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body and is about an inch wide. Sciatic pain is caused by irritation, compression, tension, misalignment or traction of the nerve or nerve root at the spine.

Sciatica is not a disease, as many people think it is. Sciatic pain is a symptom of another disorder which is causing the pain. The most common sciatic pain conditions are a herniated disc, misaligned vertebrae or bone spur. Sciatica symptoms include inflammation, back pain, burning, cramping, muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness in the affected leg. Sciatic pain generally occurs on one side of the body, but it can affect both sides. Some other causes of sciatic radiculopathy are:

  • Herniated disc
  • Misaligned vertebrae
  • Osteoarthritis of the facet joint
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Arthropathy, an abnormality of a joint
  • Spinal cord infection
  • Spinal cord tumor
  • Spondylolisthesis, displacement of a vertebra producing pain by compression of the nerve roots

The sciatic nerve’s unique anatomy accounts for the vast array of symptoms with sciatica. It is a super highway without exits transferring large amounts of energy to the calf and foot of the lower leg. The lumbar spine, via the sciatic nerve, coordinates all blood flow, muscle control, and sensation below the knee. Sciatic pain may last from weeks to years if left untreated.

Many simple activities of daily living will irritate it—lifting, standing, sitting, etc. Most people find their most comfortable position to be lying down because it takes the pressure off the lower back. Pain relief from sciatica can easily be achieved without the need of surgery. In most cases, realignment of the spine provides long-term health benefits and pain relief.

Piriformis Syndrome

Another condition called piriformis syndrome can be mistaken for sciatica since its symptoms are similar. The piriformis muscle lies deep within the buttocks and serves to rotate the hip and the lower extremity outward. It begins at the base of the spine at the sacrum bone and runs down the lower extremity and attaches to the thigh bone (femur). When this muscle becomes tight or flaccid, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause the same type of pain that sciatica would cause. This condition can be caused by a sports injury or other injury from the past.

Exercise and Sciatica

While it may seem counterintuitive, acute care exercise is usually better for sciatic relief than bed rest alone. The lack of exercise while someone is inactive causes the back muscles and spinal structures to become deconditioned, slow down the metabolism in the area, resulting in less support of the back and spine. This deconditioning can lead to more injury and strain, and then more pain. Exercise is important for the health of the discs.

The pelvic tilt is perhaps one of the best exercises for strengthening the lumbar spine. To do this exercise, lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly move your pelvis in an upward motion while tightening your abdominal muscles and buttocks. (This will put your lower back in a flat position, which is the most comfortable for those suffering from sciatica.) Lower the pelvis and repeat. A long-term solution that works is regular abdominal exercise to stabilize the spine. To avoid further back injury, you might consider learning some stretching exercises and maintain good posture.

Sciatica: A Symptom of a More Serious Problem?

Since sciatic pain can be caused by a serious problem, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Low back pain ranks second only to the common cold as a leading reason for missed time at work by American workers. Studies show that 40% of the population will experience sciatica at some point. A chiropractor, specializing in realignment of the spine, can make a diagnosis and suggest the best plan of care. Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss your concerns.

Chiropractor for Sciatic Pain

I specialize in the following treatments for sciatic pain, which may be used individually or in combination to provide easy and convenient solutions for your discomfort:

Spinal Adjustment

A gentle process to carefully meet your personal adjustment needs over time. I use many adjusting techniques from non-force to traditional, tailoring the techniques for each patient. Results are measured by exam, not symptoms, as it relates to your health as reported in the Winsor Study. Health insurance, budgets, and family plans are all a part of our healthy chiropractic philosophy of life.

Soft Tissue Chiropractic

Sports injury treatment handles muscle, tendon, and ligament imbalance, scar tissue, hardening, tension, trigger points, and ankylosis with soft tissue techniques. We treat all ages from the elderly down to newborns using muscular spinal fixes.

Additional Therapy

Electrical modalities may be used for inflammation, pain control, herniated discs, degeneration, bone spurs, sports and car injury, and soft tissue rehabilitation (muscle, tendon, imbalance, scars, hardening, tension, ankylosis).

Applied Kinesiology

The AK basics are used to supplement other care. In AK, the main premise is that every organ has a relationship with a corresponding muscle, termed the “viscero-somatic relationship.” (Viscero = organ and somatic = body).

Nutrition Response Testing

Silent causes can lead to recurring or chronic issues. A relatively healthy body can have weakness from deficiencies, toxins, past lifestyle, or immune challenges. Read the article my colleague wrote on Pasteur vs. Bechamp as it relates to toxins even back in the early 19th century.

Exercise & Meditation

Exercises or meditation techniques basics assist in maintenance of your body. Acute care skills are for pain management of a condition.

I believe chiropractic, with my experience and proven track record of success in relieving sciatic pain symptoms, is an effective remedy to reduce and eliminate your suffering. Please contact me for a free consultation.

Dr. John G. Marone
Holistic Chiropractor