When you experience lower back pain, it can easily become a debilitating experience. It doesn’t matter if the pain is from a chronic injury or if was acute onset because of a sneeze, when your back hurts, it hurts. And no matter what, the one thing that you want is simply relief. But, when it comes to your back, finding relief, let alone a diagnosis, can be a struggle. You don’t have to struggle with lower back pain, herniated discs, sciatica, or headaches alone. Our local chiropractic clinic can help you to not only find the right diagnosis, but also help you to find the pain relief that you seek. We also know that the more you are educated about the most common causes of back pain, the more empowered you will be in order to provide yourself with the right care you need. With over 3 million new cases of sciatica diagnosed each year for sufferers of lower back pain, it’s far too common. But keep reading to learn more about sciatica and what you can do to find the relief that you crave.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is the lower back and lower limb pain directly associated with the pinching of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a major nerve that runs from your spinal cord in the lower back down each side of the body all the way down the legs. This nerve helps to provide all the information and communication pathways that your legs need in order to function properly. Any pain or irritation that is found along the sciatic nerve pathways and originates in the back is known as sciatica. It doesn’t matter if a bulging disc is impinging on the sciatic nerve or if the piriformis muscle is compressing it, they’re both known as sciatica.
What causes sciatica?
As we mentioned above, there are many different ways in which the sciatic nerve can be compressed. Any of these causes can be characterized as sciatica. However, some causes are more common than others. According to Spine-Health.com, there are six common causes of sciatica that can be addressed by a chiropractor or doctor.
- Herniated Lumbar Disc – A disc herniated in the lower spine can impinge on nerves, like the sciatic nerve.
- Degenerative Disc Disease – The concern with degenerative disc disease is that it allows the spine to compress as the discs wear down. This causes strain on the associated nerves.
- Isthmic Spondylolisthesis – You’ve heard of a slipped disc, but have you heard of a slipped vertebrae? Any changes in the spine’s alignment can cause nerves to be pinched.
- Spinal Stenosis – This is the narrowing of the nerve canals over time, which again, impinges on the nerves.
- Piriformis Syndrome – While not truly sciatica, as it doesn’t originate from the lumbar spine, a tight piriformis muscle can cause symptoms exactly like sciatica, as it pinches the sciatic nerve.
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction – The sacroiliac joints in your hips can cause irritation in the lumbar region of the spine. While not directly pinching the sciatic nerve, it can often feel like it.
How do you identify sciatica?
Finding a proper diagnosis of sciatica takes a trained professional, because often, sciatica can be found hand in hand with other back problems. However, there are a few specific tell-tale signs of sciatica that can help rule out another diagnosis. If you experience any of the following, you may have sciatica:
- Pain to one side of the buttock down the back of the leg
- Pain that feels better when lying down or walking, but worse when sitting
- Sharp lumbar pain that radiates down
- Numbness or tingling down the back of the leg, sometimes to the foot
The Anatomy of the Sacrum
The unique hip and sacrum anatomy makes sciatica a common problem. Your sacrum region of the back is made up of many different bones that are mostly fused together to form your lower back. This chunk of bone sits squarely between both hip bones. What’s even more important is that the spinal cord ends in this region, and the major nerves continue from there. The sciatic nerves, that run down each leg from this region, are the major nerves that branch from the spinal cord in the lower back. The tricky part is that they run through the hips, under some of the largest muscles in the body, and then down all the way to your toes. If something is wrong in the lower back, it can easily cause problems with these nerves simply due to the natural anatomy.
What are your treatment options for sciatica?
There are a variety of treatment options available to address both the symptoms and underlying causes of sciatica pain. Traditional treatments at home involve regular exercise, ice or heat, stretching, and over-the-counter pain medications. However, these mostly just mask the symptoms. You have to address the cause of the sciatica pain to get full relief. Chiropractic care and physical therapy are great options for treating sciatica. A chiropractor will focus on improving the alignment of the spine in order to relieve any pressure. The goal is to help you heal in the long run instead of masking symptoms. Other treatment options you can consider include epidural steroid injections under guided fluoroscopy, acupuncture, and massage therapy. Surgery is an option, but that’s a last resort in every case.
Sciatica can be a difficult condition to deal with and often hard to properly diagnose the underlying cause. Progressive Health and Rehab is your local resource in order to get the sciatica care that you need in the Gahanna area. With experienced chiropractic expertise, our goal is to help you heal! Contact us for a free consultation today.