As a chiropractor, one of the most common conditions that I see in my office is sciatica. Lower back pain with radiation into the leg is very common in North America.
In fact, just last week, I had a patient come into my office in such excruciating pain that he actually had to crawl through the hallway on his hands and knees.
What exactly causes Sciatica and how can we get rid of it? We must begin by understanding the meaning of the word sciatica.
What Your Sciatica Pain Really Means
Sciatica is a term that describes symptoms of pain that begin in the lower back and extend down through the buttock, thigh, and into the lower leg and foot. These symptoms can occur when a nerve or nerve root is compressed or pinched in the lower back leading to the sensation of pain, numbness, and weakness in the leg. There are multiple locations where the nerve or nerve root can be pinched.
The most common cause of sciatica is lumbar disc herniation. Repeated mechanical stress to a spinal disc can cause the outer layers of the disc to tear and allows the inner substance to herniate, or push its way out of its enclosed space.
Lumbar disc herniation occurs most commonly at the weakest point of the disc, which is the area where the nerve root exits from the spinal canal. When a disc herniates in this location, it often directly contacts the nerve root which is exiting through the space, thus activating the nerve and causing the feeling of numbness and pain radiating into the leg.
There are other conditions which can mimic the effects of a lumbar disc herniation including degenerative disc disease and piriformis syndrome, a condition in which the piriformis muscle becomes tight and compresses the sciatic nerve as it passes through the gluteal region.
Treatments for Sciatica Pain Relief?
All health care professionals agree that conservative care should be performed first and that surgery is a last resort for this issue. This is where health care professionals like chiropractors and physiotherapists come in.
1. Heat/Ice Therapy
In the early stages, using heat packs or ice packs