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Sciatica - A Real Pain In The Butt

Woman suffering from sciaticaIn last week’s post about numbness, we mentioned sciatica as a condition that can often be addressed by Chiropractic. This week, we will talk more about sciatica, what can cause it and how it can range from a temporary complaint to a longer term issue that requires professional intervention.

Sciatica is a painful condition caused by inflammation, compression, or irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the largest and longest in the body. Many smaller nerves branch from it and run all the way from the pelvis to the feet.

As a result, symptoms can be varied:

  • Lower back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Pain in the buttocks or leg that is worse when sitting
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving a leg or foot
  • Constant pain on one side of the buttocks
  • A shooting pain that makes it hard to stand erect

Coughing or sneezing can make it worse and usually only one side of the body is affected. Sometimes, the pain can feel like an electric shock. Sciatica can be further aggravated or brought on by obesity, prolonged sitting, and any job that has you doing a lot of twisting, bending, or carrying that puts strain on those lower back muscles.

Mild sciatica

Simple muscle stiffness can often be a cause of mild sciatica because of the pressure it puts on the sciatic nerve. Other times, it’s something as simple as too much time sitting with a fat wallet in a back pocket, wedged under one buttock.

A common muscle-related cause is piriformis syndrome, named after the piriformis muscle, which assists with hip rotation. This muscle is located in the lower spine and connects to the thigh bone. The sciatic nerve runs beneath it. If the piriformis is inflamed from an injury, hip arthritis, or repetitive strain from exercise or sitting, it can cramp and spasm. This can compress and even pinch the sciatic nerve.

More severe sciatica

But sometimes, sciatica is evidence of a deeper problem. Symptoms that persist past a couple of weeks is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong and professional help is required.

Get checked by a Chiropractor if sciatica flares up after a traffic accident or a bad fall. A telling additional symptom is problems with bowel or bladder control.

More serious disorders known to cause sciatic nerve pain include lumbar spine subluxations (misalignments of the vertebrae), and herniated or bulging discs.

When and how Chiropractic can help

Mild sciatica can often be addressed by keeping your muscles and joints strong and limber through stretching and exercise. The odds of developing sciatica are greatly reduced by practicing good ergonomics when sitting or lifting.

For the more serious cases, the first and most important step for your Chiropractor is to accurately diagnose the cause of your sciatica, especially given that there are so many different potential causes.

If the cause is rooted in a misalignment of your spine, we will employ our skills in spinal correction. In some instances, patients can experience sudden and substantial relief after only one visit. But don’t be deceived by quick results – pain is only a symptom. The underlying issue may take a regular schedule of visits over a period of weeks or months to be fully corrected.

If we determine that the cause of your sciatic pain is not rooted in a spinal issue we can address with Chiropractic, we will recommend that you consult with your family doctor.

Are you or a loved one suffering from persistent sciatica? If so, please come and talk to us.

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