The Women's Journal

Chiropractic & Sciatica

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By D
r. Cynthia Crosser  

Sciatica . . . What is it? How do we know we have it and why? 

By definition it is pain that runs down the leg from the lower back or the hips to one or both legs. Usually, it occurs along the back of the thigh towards the knee and can even go as far as the foot. The reasons for this type of pain can vary, resulting in a range of treatments form simple to more complicated. 

Sciatic pain travels along the path of the sciatic nerve which originates in the buttocks/gluteal area. On each side of your body, it is one large sciatic nerve that crosses the hip, down into the leg to the knee. At the knee, it branches to form other nerves, which travel down the lower leg and into the foot and toes. This type of pain results from an irritation, inflammation, or pressure on the nerve in your lower back. You can even have rotation of the femur head (the bone in the thigh that goes into your pelvis forming the hip joint), which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve in the hip.

The pain can be mild or severe and anywhere from the lower back to down the legs and could be a burning pain or a pins-and-needles type of sensation in your foot, toes, and even your leg. You could have muscular weakness as well. It can be a “burning,” “electric,” or “stabbing” pain and constant or intermittent. Any quick movements or movements that cause increased pressure in the lower back can make it worse such as coughing or sneezing.

So why does this happen? The first place to start is to assess by way of a comprehensive examination of the lower back to determine if there is any neurological compromise such as loss of reflexes, muscle strength, or sensation. Then either an X-ray or MRI is usually ordered to get a picture from within the lower back and pelvis. There can be wearing down of the vertebral disc, causing degeneration and narrowing the opening for the nerves in the lower back. There may also be herniated discs which may present with a bent-over type of posture. An X-ray can also provide information regarding any misalignments in the sacroiliac joints that could potentially alter hip motion and thereby irritate the sciatic nerve. Getting a professional assessment as to the cause is essential to determine the appropriate treatment for quick relief.

Then there’s treatment which varies from case-to-case dependent upon the cause. If arthritic changes are part of the cause, it is necessary to decompress the joints in the lower back to open the space between the vertebrae called the intervertebral foramen. Or perhaps the hip motion is impaired and better movement of the hips needs to be addressed. This would be termed piriformis syndrome. Most often patients are advised to use ice, usually on the lower back. The goal, ultimately, is to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

However, prevention is key. Remain active, maintain a strong “core,” maintain a normal body weight for your height, and don’t smoke!! And, if at some point, you feel this pain in your buttocks or leg(s), get a proper, professional evaluation to get moving without pain . . . Fast!!! For more information call 302-994-1010 or visit www.CrosserNaturalHealth.com..

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Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Weight loss, Neurofeedback, Nutritional Counseling