Sciatica and Chiropractic Care
Kevin Marsh, DC
Many people suffer from a common complaint termed Sciatica which refers to the unpleasant sensation that can radiate from the lower back and buttock region, down the leg. Extreme cases may radiate as far down the leg as the toes. These symptoms develop along the sciatic nerve, which happens to be the largest nerve in the body. It originates from the spinal nerves of L4 through S3, coursing through the pelvis and buttocks and down the length of both the left leg and the right leg. Each sufferer has a unique manifestation, which may include pain (mild to excruciating), muscle weakness, numbness, tingling or pins-and-needles, the extent of each varies widely, but all share the hallmark pathway along the sciatic nerve. The duration of the symptoms can last a few days or become a chronic issue. Typically sciatica affects only one lower extremity at a time which a skilled chiropractor can help alleviate.
An irritation of the sciatic nerve triggering a bout of sciatica can manifest in many ways.
A herniated disk (a condition when the gel of the disk seeps out) in the lower back can place pressure on the area beginning a sciatica episode.
An individual with lumbar spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spine, can find stress placed on the sciatic nerve as well.
There is also a condition called spondylolisthesis known as a displacement of the spinal vertebra in which one slips over another and pinches the nerve.
Piriformis syndrome is a spasming or tightness of the piriform is muscle that results in irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Rarely, one may develop a spinal or sciatic nerve tumor, incur a direct sciatic nerve injury, or have a back trauma such as a car accident.
Chiropractic care is a safe alternative form of treatment to standard therapy, and studies have shown this line of treatment to be very effective. For the treatment of sciatica, a doctor of chiropractic will be able to provide the spinal manipulations necessary to best relieve the problem. Chiropractic care is based on improving the function and spinal mobility. This process works synergistically in an effort to decrease the pain from the sciatic nerve irritation, and prevent future incidents. A chiropractor can manage the acute symptoms associated with sciatica, and give preventative or maintenance spinal manipulations to decrease the chance of a future sciatic occurrence. Therefore, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is best to get an evaluation and proper diagnosis from a chiropractic physician.