Sciatica

Symptoms

The trademark symptom of sciatica is shooting pain into the buttock and down the back or side of the leg. Other symptoms include burning, numbness or tingling sensations in the foot, or traveling down the leg. With more severe sciatica, weakness or difficulty controlling movements of the leg or foot may develop.

shutterstock_63759136Causes

Sciatica can come about suddenly as the result of a traumatic event (slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, heavy weight lifting, sports) or it can come about over time. Sciatica is the result of your sciatic nerve being irritated and compressed (pinched nerve). This can happen from tight buttock muscles, in particular the piriformis muscle, or from pressure into the sciatic nerve from a wallet or excessive sitting.

Background

The term sciatica is a general term often given to any radiating leg pain from a pinched nerve in the lower back or buttock region. True sciatica involves the sciatic nerve, which is the thickest peripheral nerve in your body that passes through the buttock to reach the structures in your legs. Nerves originating in the lower back supply sensation and muscle control in the lower extremities. The roots of these nerves are located very close to the spinal cord, between vertebral bones. When one or more of these nerve roots is irritated or compressed, this is diagnosed as radiculitis or radiculopathy; however, sciatica symptoms may arise. A lumbar disc herniation may be the source of nerve irritation with sciatica. Other more severe conditions, such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of spinal canal) or spondylolisthesis (one vertebrae slipping forward over the next) can also cause sciatic pain. Increased weight in the abdominal area, as is the case in pregnancy, can place strain on the lower back and result in sciatic symptoms as well.

Aligned Medical Group’s Approach

The key to healing sciatica is relieving or reducing the pressure on the nerve. The plan may include spinal manipulation, flexion-distraction, therapeutic stretches, core strengthening and stabilization exercises, electric muscle stimulation, cold laser treatment and ice therapy. We may use Graston Technique to reduce and break apart chronic adhesions, tightness and scar tissue if the nerve is entrapped. Injections can be performed to target the piriformis muscle with the goal of reducing muscle tension and inflammation.