Many people have heard of the term sciatica, however it is a very commonly misused and misunderstood term. It covers more than just leg or back pain and can become quite debilitating if left untreated.
Sciatica is actually a group of symptoms and not a diagnosis in itself. The technical meaning of sciatica is dysfunction of the sciatic nerve caused by other spinal structures starting at the nerve root.
This means that actual sciatic pain comes from the nerves that exit the spine, typically at the base above the pelvis (L5-S1), and is most often caused by one of the following:
• Lumbar subluxation (malposition of a joint)
• Lumbar disc herniation
• Degenerative disease
• Spondylolisthesis (where one vertebrae is sitting forward over another)
• Spinal stenosis (where the passage that the spinal chord sits is narrowed)
• And a few others.
The pain associated with sciatica is typically a shooting ‘nerve’ pain that travels quickly down the leg. It often travels down the back of the thigh, past the knee and towards the ankle.
One cause that is a little different from the others is called Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle in the area at the back of the pelvis and in about 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve actually runs through this muscle. That means that when the piriformis is tight or inflamed, it can cause sciatic symptoms even though it’s affecting the nerve further from the spine compared to other more typical causes.
Many people experience sciatic pain differently and may need varying types of treatment. Chiropractic should really be one of the first choices when deciding what to do about your potential sciatica. This is because it’s non-invasive, natural and effective for many cases. The way chiropractic works to reduce sciatica is by decreasing the stress on the nerves at the base of the spine by making sure that each spinal segment is positioned and moving as it should be.
Exercising, along with chiropractic adjustments, is also paramount in the treatment of sciatica. Chiropractic is great for taking stress off the nervous system and helping spinal flexibility, but doing core exercises will help keep your lower back strong and supportive between adjustments at the beginning of treatment and long into the future when you’re maintaining your spinal health.
If your case needs further investigation, our chiropractors at Brisbane Natural Health will help to guide you in the right direction so you can address the issue in a timely manner.
Dr Beau Billett – Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic), Masters of Clinical Chiropractic