Low back pain is the most common reason patients seek chiropractic care, and it comes in many different forms. Sciatica is a version of a low back pain condition characterized by nerve pain along the sciatic nerve. This pain travels down the back of a person’s leg and causes severe function limitations in some cases.
Sciatica Presentation and Symptoms:
.Sciatic nerve pain is often described as a “sharp,” “tingling,” “cramping” or “burning” sensation extending from the low back into the hips/ buttocks and sometimes past the knee and into the foot. Sciatic pain typically occurs only in one leg, but can be present in both legs. Sciatica can affect patients of any age due to a variety of causes. One of the most common causes is a bulging disc where the disc places pressure on the nerve causing pain. Another common cause of sciatica is disc degeneration. Disc degeneration leads to a decrease in disc height, which can put pressure on a nerve and cause pain. Another and much less common cause of sciatica is compression by the piriformis muscle. This is sometimes called “piriformis syndrome”.
Compression of the sciatic nerve can be caused by different mechanisms – ranging from too much movement to not enough. Sciatica is often seen in runner and other athletes that put repeated pressure on the hips and back. Moreover, sciatica is common in people who are sedentary throughout the day. Constant sitting can also irritate the sciatic nerve.
Regardless of the reason a person is having sciatica pain, a chiropractic evaluation is a good first step. When a person reports to a chiropractor for these symptoms, the chiropractor will be able to determine if conservative care is the right course of action or if other treatments such as pain management are needed.
Question: Sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve which can cause specific types of pain in a patient’s low back, hip, and down the leg. Asking just a few questions regarding to the quality of pain, location, and what positions provoke the patient’s symptoms can make sciatica easy to spot for a trained professional.
Assess: Sciatica is common in athletes or those who spend prolonged amounts of time sitting. Assessing a patient’s day-to-day lifestyle and testing which ranges of motions are most provocative for the pain will help a doctor determine the best plan of action. The doctor will also look for deficits in leg strength and sensation from side-to-side.
Plan: Sciatic pain can be treated by a chiropractor through conservative care. Lifestyle adjustments, proper stretching and exercise, adjustments, and acupuncture are all treatment options for sciatica. The extent of lumbar disc involvement is an important factor when setting expectations for the patient’s recovery.
Execute: Immediate temporary relief is noted in many cases as beginning treatment. As patients follow their home exercises and continue with regular visits, the symptoms relief becomes more and more sustainable.