Listen up sciatica sufferers! Sciatica doesn’t have to run your life or ruin your life.
There are treatments that won’t cost you an arm and leg to get relief. As you continue reading I will break down everything you need to know about sciatica then give you 3 nuggets that can give an immediate response to a nagging sciatica flare up.
First lets clear up what sciatica is. It’s not just lower back pain. Just because you have lower back pain doesn’t mean you have sciatica. Vice versa, being diagnosed with sciatica doesn’t mean you have low back pain. Low back pain can be a by product for what is causing sciatica but the two don’t always exist together.
Sciatica is a symptom or sensation created when there is compression of the sciatic nerve or compression on the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve. Specifically the lower lumbar nerves and sacral nerves. These nerves all exit the spinal cord and combine to create the largest nerve in the body, the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve supplies function and sensation from the low back, into the buttocks, and travels down the legs all the way into the feet.
With compression on the nerve, one can feel sensations such as pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and/or burning. There can be a single symptom or a combination of them. It’s also commonly unilaterally distributed, meaning most occurrences or episodes are on one side of the body and located in the back/posterior part of the leg. If there are sensations in both legs its likely a radiculopathy, which is commonly confused with sciatica.
Sciatica is actually a form of radiculopathy.
Lumbar radiculopathy is when there is compression on nerves as well. Lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica are similar because they both can travel down the legs into the feet, both can cause the same symptoms that are listed above, and both can be caused be a few of the same injuries. Causes of sciatica will be explained a little further down.
Lumbar radiculopathy is when the symptoms follow a nerves dermatome. A dermatome is the region that is supplied by a single nerve root. The back of the leg is the dermatomal region supplied when the sciatic nerve is irritated which is why it’s considered sciatica instead of a lumbar radiculopathy. This is also where they differ. If there is compression on other nerve roots, the distribution of symptoms will be in region of the body that dermatome supplies.
Causes of sciatica
Traumatic events and repetitive motions create injuries to the body and nothing’s different when discussing the causes of sciatica. Being involved in any traumatic event such as a motor vehicle accident, slip and falls, missing your chair at the office, getting football tackled by your most feared NFL player, pregnancy, or giving birth. We all can conclude that when the body is put through violent stress, a bone being knocked out of it normal position or a change in your structure is definitely possible.
However, most people overlook the everyday activities they do that has a similar negative effect on the body as these traumatic events, sometimes with a worse outcome. If you’re asking how anything can be worse than being hit by Ray Lewis at full speed, I’ll explain. After waking up from a sudden impact from Ray Lewis, I’m either at the hospital or headed that way. In that case, it’s inevitable that I’ll be getting evaluated by doctors because I know it’s very likely something has been knocked loose (like a bones, joints, or kidneys) or is out of place. Therefore I would know something was wrong and I immediately start treatment.
Everyday activity or repetitive motions will also get your spine out of normal alignment and eventually cause further damage, some that become irreversible. A lot of people in these situations don’t get evaluated because it’s their “normal” routine which wouldn’t have the same negative effects as trauma. If this person is not knowledgeable about chiropractic, they’ll likely see an MD who will prescribe a medication, go to their local drug store to buy over the counter medications, or just ignore it until they build a high pain tolerance. None of which helps correct their daily “normal” negative routines.
Sciatica is commonly caused by an imbalance somewhere between the lumbar spine and pelvis.
Whether the structure compressing the sciatic nerve is muscular, inflammatory, bony, or caused by pressure from a disc, there is usually some sort of structural imbalance or vertebral malposition leading to these problems. Muscles tightening enough on one side of the body to cause compression on the nerve should happen, unless you’re a cyclist pedaling with one leg the whole time.
Remove the imbalance and align the spine to relieve the different forms of pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Now that we have a better understanding of what sciatica is and what causes it, let’s discuss 3 non-invasive nuggets to help you clear up these flare ups.
First type of treatment is the chiropractic adjustment. Let’s make this clear, if a vertebra is rotated, or SI joint is restricted, or sacrum is stuck in bad alignment, no medicine will move that bone back to its normal position. No matter how many muscle relaxers you take. Chiropractic adjustments and literally and physically realign the spine and pelvis and take abnormal pressure off nerves. Corrective care programs allow you to correct the spine to help prevent future flare ups. Chiropractic adjustments are safe, effective, time friendly, and less expensive than the alternative (prolonged drug use, injections, or surgery. Nugget number one, to go see your local chiropractor.
Nugget number two can help you get relief while helping prevent future flare ups as well. Simple stretching and strengthening all muscles of the lower back and ones the attach to the pelvis are vital in correcting a balance. Directly stretching hip rotators such as the Piriformis helps relieve Piriformis related sciatica.
Nugget number three is for acute or present aggravations. Using ice, ice packs, bags of peas, whatever’s in the freezer. This reduces inflammation and helps numb pain.
For more information about getting evaluated by this office, please go online to corechiropractic.net or call 713.622.3300. If you need help with exercises or stretches, you can just visit our website or YouTube channel.
Dr. Bryen Brown is married to Dawn and has one son. He grew up in Bogalusa, LA and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Grambling State University in 2008. He then attended and graduated from Texas Chiropractic College in 2012. Click Here To Read Full Bio