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Sciatica:  A Real Pain in the ……Leg?

sciatica.gifAlthough sciatica is a relatively common form of low back pain and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood.  

Sciatica is a set of symptoms that includes pain that may be caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. 

The sciatic nerve  exits the spine in the lower back and sacrum and passes thru the pelvis.  By irritating the nerves in the back or compressing the nerve after it has left the spine, pain can be felt in the lower back, buttocks, and or radiating down into the leg even to the big toe. 

Sciatica is not a stand alone condition.  The term Sciatica is used to describe the symptoms or pain.  Because Sciatica has many causes, treatment can differ based on the source of the problem

There are many causes of sciatica.

1.  Spine or pelvic mis-alignment

The most common cause of sciatica is mechanical mis-alignment of the spine or pelvis. The spine,  due to misalignment, irritates or stresses or puts pressure on the nerve as it exits the spine.   When this misalignment is reduced pain is reduced.  This is the reason that so many people get sciatica relief with traditional chiropractic.

2.  Herniated disc

The disc which is the shock absorber between the bones of the spine can swell (bulging disc), or tear (ruptured disc) and press on the nerve root.  Pain can be felt along the a portion of the nerve or the entire length of the nerve.  There are many treatment options such as spinal decompression, chiropractic care, and cold laser therapy.

3.  Trauma

Such as a car accident or lifting accident.  The nerve can be injured directly. Either within the spine or pelvis.  It can happen with a slip and fall too.  Treatment options are spinal decompression, chiropractic care, and cold laser therapy.

4.  Piriformis syndrome

In 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle rather than beneath it. When the muscle shortens or spasms due to trauma or overuse, it can compress or strangle the sciatic nerve beneath the muscle. Conditions of this type are generally referred to as entrapment neuropathies. Piriformis syndrome may be a cause of sciatica when the nerve root is normal.  Treatment can include trigger point therapy, massage, cold laser therapy, electrical muscle stim, chiropractic alignments.

5.  Everything else

There are a host of rare conditions from spondylolistesis, tumors, ankylosing spondylitits (AS), to spinal stenosis that can cause sciatica.  An examination with special imaging will likely be required to diagnose these problems.

Chiropractic examination and appropriate care is the number one treatment of sciatica.  Colorado Springs Chiropractor, Dr. Kirby Gengler, has 14 years of success in treating sciatica.  Schedule a Free exam to see if chiropractic can help your sciatic pain.  Why live with it if you don't have to?