Most of us have a vague idea of what sciatica is. If you know anything, it may be that sciatica is some sort of pinched nerve and lower back problem that afflicts the over-40 crowd.
But there is more to sciatica than that, and some of it might surprise you.
What is Sciatica?
In clinical terms, sciatica is pain resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve. It is usually caused by one of three things: piriformis syndrome, irritation of the sacroiliac, or herniated disc.
Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis (or large muscle inside your butt) gets irritated, swells and squeezes your sciatic nerve. Piriformis syndrome is literally a “pain in the butt”.
Irritation of the sacrum ligaments (called sacro-iliac) – The sacrum is a bony wedged that sits at the base of your spine and keeps your pelvis in place. What’s strange about it is that there are no muscles to hold it in place—only ligaments—which means that your sacrum depends on body balance and alignment to stay in place. It’s easy to see then, that if your hips or pelvis get nudged out of alignment, those ligaments will twist and turn, causing sharp, excruciating pain in the pelvis, hip and numbness down the leg.
A herniated disc happens when the outer wall of a disc in your back ruptures and allows the pulp of the disc to squeeze out and rake against the largest nerve in your body (the sciatic nerve). Ouch! Lots of things can cause the disc to erupt, but for the most part, the disc starts with a tiny, insignificant tear that left alone would heal. But under pressure that outer wall (called the “annulus fibrosus”) gets squeezed and pinched, until it cannot hold any longer. The wall ruptures!
How Sciatica Happens at Any Age
There is a long list of scenarios and lifestyles that can create the kind of torque needed to twist your sacroiliac, irritate your piriformis and burst the wall of a disc. But chief among them are: leaning to one side, sitting on uneven surfaces, straining with one leg over and over again, and recovering from knee surgery. A 45-year-old man driving an 18-wheeler 10 to 12 hours a day, day after day. A thirty-something woman standing in front of a class of fifth graders while leaning on one leg, year after year.
What’s interesting is that, with all we know today about ergonomics and back strain, you’re probably not surprised that truck drivers and teachers get sciatica at a pretty steady clip. But what about the hip hop crowd? Those 16-year-old boys with their oversized pants slung low and cool with deep pockets. Those pants have created a whole generation of young men who sit tipped sideways atop their wallets. Day after day, hour after hour, they are tipping their backs out of alignment, and putting their sciatic nerve under intense pressure.
Treating the Symptoms or the Root Cause?
You have a lot of choices when it comes to treating sciatica, and each depends on where the symptoms originate. Some choose surgery to fix a herniated disc, some choose steroid shots poked directly into their hip to get at the piriformis. Others choose anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling around their sacroiliac ligaments. But none of those treatments gets to the ROOT of the problem.
As mentioned above, all sciatic nerve problems have similar symptoms: pain in the lower back or pelvic area and numbness down one leg. But the ROOT of all of them is the EXACLTY same — a body out of alignment. And for that, Structural Integration is the only answer. Structural Integration (SI) is designed to relieve pain AND to get inside and fix the root cause of the problem. SI practitioners use a 10-session methodology to systematically relax and loosen muscle, ligaments, tendons, etc. layer-by-layer. With each session and each layer, your practitioner moves closer to the CAUSE of your pain until he is able to gently reach in a untwist ligaments, sooth swollen musclse and take pressure of discs. Then he will realign your pelvis, back, hips, knees, feet and more, until they settle into perfect alignment. Your back, leg, pelvis will balance, and you won’t be living in fear of the next time your sciatica will flare up – because it won’t.