What is Sciatica and What Can be Done About It?
I’d like to talk to you about sciatica, what causes it and what can be done about it.
There are several causes of sciatica. The sciatic nerve is about as big as your pinky and runs all the way down from your low back down your leg, to your toes. When this nerve is pinched or being impeding some way, the pain it causes is called sciatica.
The sciatic nerve can be pinched or impeded in several different areas along that route to your foot. The first area where it can be pinched is in the lower back itself. This can happen because of degeneration of the spine or the discs–remember, they’re the shock absorbers of your spine start to wear out. As they get thinner and thinner, there’s less space for the nerves to exit out. If they run out of space, those nerves can be pinched and can cause pain running down both legs, not just one side or the other. Also if the vertebra in the area are misaligned, or if there’s an accident that cause a lot of inflammation, this can also cause pain that runs down the leg. So sciatica can come from degeneration in the spine or disc herniation which is similar to rupture.
The other area sciatica can come from is from your piriformis muscle. Some of you may have heard of this muscle. It goes from your hip to your tailbone and it connects those two bones. It also helps when turning your foot in and out. The piriformis muscle can go into spams for various reasons. Sometimes it starts to go into spasm because it’s trying to compensate for weak muscles surrounding it. If the muscles have become weakened due to lack of use in the butt area, the piriformis muscle starts to tighten up. The sciatic nerve passes either directly below or sometimes through the piriformis muscles so when piriformis muscle the tightens up, it goes into spasms, it can pinch the sciatic nerve in that spot and cause pain all the way down the leg. Sciatic nerve pain can be completely debilitating to the point where someone can’t walk, can’t think, can’t concentrate–it can be very, very painful and can stop a person doing their activities at work, at home, at school, or wherever they may be.
When somebody comes to us with sciatica we do a very thorough examination and diagnostic test to find out what is causing it. We can’t treat someone or tell someone we can fix their problem until we know where the pain is coming from.
Once we know what’s causing it, we can offer appropriate recommendations. Our recommendations might include physical therapy to stretch that muscle and strengthen the ones around it, it might also include a trigger point injection right into that muscle to get it to relax–that provides some immediate relief. And we might recommend decompression for the spine as we separate those discs and vertebrae, to open up that space it’s going to take that pressure off that nerve and the patient will feel a lot better and it’s also going to help rehydrate those discs.
We also may probably recommend chiropractic adjustment, just to make sure the bones and joints are moving properly and freely like they should. There are a lot of other treatments we can do such as cold laser, Graston Techniques, ultrasound, muscle therapy, like massage and other types of injections. But we don’t know what’s going to be the best for our patient until we are able to properly evaluate them. Please contact us at 425-347-8614 to schedule an appointment today.