Sciatica is a common complaint for many and refers to the unpleasant sensation which can radiate from the lower back and buttock region, down either the left or the right leg. Severe 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 legs.
Each sufferer has unique manifestations including 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 be acute and last a few days or become a chronic issue. Typically sciatica affects only one lower extremity at a time which a chiropractor can help alleviate.
An irritation of the sciatic nerve triggering a bout of sciatica can be caused by many different anatomical sources:
• A herniated disk (when the center gel of the disk begins seeping 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 either the spinal central canal, or neural foramen, 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 common scenario where the piriformis muscle is spasming or is hypertonic 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 resulting in blunt trauma to the nerve.
Chiropractic care is a safe alternative form of treatment to standard therapy, and studies have shown this line of treatment to be very effective in relieving sciatic symptoms.
For the treatment of sciatica, a chiropractor will be able to provide the spinal manipulations 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 given preventative or maintenance spinal manipulations to decrease the chance of a future sciatic occurrence.