Have you ever experienced sciatic pain? That’s the pain that’s “kind of low back, but the pain goes into the butt cheek and down the back of the leg.” Have you ever had this? Do you have it now? Sciatica is a very common reason why people come into our office and there are several ways that patients get this condition.
The sciatic nerve is the big thick nerve at the bottom of your spine that travels along the same route that you’re experiencing as described above. The nerve starts in the lower spine and runs down the back of the thighs and legs. Sciatica symptoms occur when there is pressure, inflammation, or damage to the sciatic nerve.
I know what I see with sciatica patients that come see us for help, but I did some digging around the internet to find out what the online world says causes sciatica versus what I see on a daily basis.
Common causes of sciatica include:
- A bulging or herniated disc
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Piriformis syndrome
- Spinal tumors
Sounds pretty terrible and it seems that very little can be helped with chiropractic care, right? Wrong. We help sciatica patients on a regular basis. Thankfully, the causes we often find are far more simple to alleviate. The simple answer to what is causing your pain is likely the problem that is often ignored when visiting a doctor that is not a chiropractor and, therefore, not looking for the same types of potential causes.
What about spinal misalignment?
That’s the first thing I thought about when reviewing some online resources. Why is this not listed as a potential issue when we see it so often in patients coming into our office? Since the sciatic nerve is being affected, irritated, and pressured, we want to take a look at what is actually causing the pressure on this nerve — and that can easily be a spinal misalignment.
During the consultation and examination, I am looking for the potential causes listed above and trying to rule them out as possibilities. In most cases, we can rule nearly all of them out pretty quickly. Next, I will look for any spinal misalignments that may be creating pressure on that nerve.
The L5 vertebra, the pelvis, and the sacrum are all specific areas that I will evaluate as the leading cause of the sciatic pain. When I’m feeling along the spine, I may feel areas of heat (increased temperature due to inflammation), spasm, or point tenderness on specific joints. Any of these indicators can reveal a spinal misalignment. If these areas match up with nerve roots that can affect the sciatic nerve, then I can feel reasonably comfortable that chiropractic care can help.
Radiographic examination (x-ray) is a good idea in nearly all cases, so that you can be even more certain that there’s nothing going on with the spine that would prevent you from getting chiropractic care. What we see on x-ray can also alter the types of treatment or referrals we would make to help you get the best results as quickly as possible.