Treating Sciatica Pain [Published on Aug 18, 2011] Public service announcement that informs the public of the benefits of chiropractic for sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica are low back pain that radiates into the buttock, hip, and down one leg to the foot. The pain often is associated with tingling, numbness, or weakness of the leg. It may be sudden in onset and can persist for days or weeks. Sciatica can be caused by a number of conditions that lead to a pinched nerve in the lower back or irritation of nerves as they exit the spinal canal (space through which the spinal cord travels) in the region of the lower back where they come together to form the sciatic nerves at the end of the spinal column. People who get sciatica are usually between the ages of 30 and 50 years. Approximately 80% to 90% of people with sciatica recover over time without any surgical intervention.
The most common cause of sciatica occurs when the gel-like center of the disc between the vertebrae (bones that make up the spine) protrudes into or through the disc's outer lining
. This is called a herniated disc
, which leads to compression of individual nerves
in the lower back where they branch off from the spinal cord or to pinched sciatic nerve
itself. Other causes include:
due to wear and tear of the vertebral bones. This can lead to stenosis of the spine
(narrowing of the spinal canal), which may compromise nerves as they exit the spinal canal.
Vascular problems due to abnormalities of blood vessels in and around the spinal canal.
Rarely, tumors may occur inside the spinal cord, within the meninges (linings around the spinal cord), or in the spaces between the vertebrae and the spinal cord. Growth of a tumor may cause compression of the spinal cord and the nerves coming from it.
Other causes such as trauma, infection, and inflammation can affect nervous tissue.
A complete history is required as well as a physical examination to determine the location of the irritated nerve root. X-rays are rarely needed since they cannot detect a herniated disc in your back . X-rays can show evidence of spondylolisthesis (misalignment of the vertebrae), narrowed disks, or evidence of erosion that may suggest a tumor affecting the spine. Other possible diagnostic tests include:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces images that allow visualization of the vertebral disks, ligaments, and muscles, as well as the presence of tumors.
Computed tomography (CT) myelography using contrast dye injected into the spine allows visualization of the spinal cord and nerves.
Analgesics for pain including over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs);
occasionally, in some moderate to severe cases, your primary spine practitioner may refer you to a pain clinic where the attending physician can prescribe steroid medications for the pain or give injections of a steroid medication to help reduce the inflammation that accompanies sciatica pain
Surgery, when chiropractic care and/or analgesics have not resulted in symptom relief, if symptoms have progressed, or if bladder or bowel incontinence occurs
The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, Life in Motion Chiropractic and Wellness
suggests that you consult a physician.