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SCIATICA- Answers to Your Questions About Sciatica

Chiropractic care has proven to be a very effective treatment for relieving sciatic pain. A 2011 study showed that chiropractic adjustments were more effective than drug therapy and physical therapy for this painful condition.

WHAT IS SCIATICA? sciatic nerve pain_1.jpg

Sciatica refers to a set of symptoms that can include low back pain, pain in the buttocks, leg pain, and sometimes even pain into the lower legs and feet.

Numbness, tingling and muscle weakness can also be present. Sciatica is usually found in one leg but sometimes can occur in both legs at the same time.

Sciatica is sometimes called lumbar radiculopathy which means disease of the lumbar nerve roots.

WHAT CAUSES SCIATICA?

Sciatica is caused by compression of one or more of five spinal nerves that exit from the lower portion of the spine and make up the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. The nerve's width is about the same as a person's thumb. As it travels down the back of the thigh towards the knee, the nerve splits into two nerves which branch out to supply nerve impulses to the leg and foot.

The most common cause of the nerve compression of sciatica is when lower vertebrae in the spine become restricted in movement, also known as hypomobility. Hypomobility can be the result of an injury to the back, but may also come about as a result of prolonged sitting or inactivity of the body.

OTHER CAUSES OF SCIATICA

Disc herniation in the lower back can also cause nerve compression and lead to sciatica.

The piriformis muscle, which the sciatic nerve runs close to or through, can sometimes go into spasm as a result of trauma or overuse, can compress the sciatic nerve.

Sometimes, in the latter months of pregnancy, the fetus will press up against the sciatic nerve and cause pressure on the nerve.

Spinal stenosis, a condition where the spinal canal narrows due to bone spurs, can also cause impingement of the sciatic nerve roots.

TREATMENT

Chiropractic adjustments to the lower back have been proven  in research to be the most effective treatment for sciatica. Adjusting the lower vertebrae in the lumbar spine allows for proper movement of the vertebrae and relaxation of the piriformis muscle. This, in turn, relieves the pressure on the sciatic nerve and the pain will diminish. 

SOURCES: 

Leninga, Brent, Brenfoot, Gert, Evans, Roni, Reiter, Todd (2011). "Spinal Manipulation of Mobilization for Radiculopathy: A Systematic Review". Physcial Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America 22(1): 105-125.

"Sciatica." A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.2012. Pub Med Health. 25Feb2013 http://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH001706/.

"Sciatica Topic Overview." Web M.D. 27July2011. Healthwise, Inc.25Feb2013,http://www.webmd.com/backpain/tc/sciatica-topic-overview>.

"Sciatica:What Patients Need To Know." Spine-Health. Veritas Health LLC,1999.


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