Sciatica is pain that is typically experienced running from the low back, then into the buttocks then down the back of the leg. In many instances it goes to the knee, occasionally travel to the side of the calf. Pain can be experienced at any place on this nerve pathway and does not necessarily have to be associated with lower back pain. In some cases, sciatica is accompanied by a weakness in the same leg as the pain.
Symptom and intensity can vary: from a mild pain or ache to a sharp, shooting and disabling pain. Sneezing, coughing or sitting for long periods of time may aggravate the symptoms. In most cases, sciatica only involves one leg.
Sciatica is basically due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve at its origin in the lower back. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in our body and runs from the bottom vertebra/disc unit at the base of the spine and runs the length of the leg to the toes.
There are a few conditions that can result in an irritation of the sciatic nerve and they include:
Herniated Disc – Discs are the structures found between each vertebra in the spine and act as a cushion for the bones. The disc is made of a soft center, called a nucleus, which is surrounded by a tough fibrous ringed exterior, called the annulus. A herniated disc is when a part of the nucleus (center) is forced through cracks found in the outer ring (annulus).
Depending upon the severity and direction of the hernation, there are times this nucleus puts pressure on the sciatic nerve root, compressing and irritating the nerve, resulting in sciatic pain.
Bone Spurs – Bone spurs are the body’s response to wear and tear. As our spinal joints age, they can produce little bits of bone growth that can grow into the nerve opening, irritating the sciatic nerve.
Piriformis syndrome – Is when a muscle in the buttocks compresses on the sciatic nerve.
In very rare instances, there can be a tumor that compresses the sciatic nerve.
With most cases of sciatica, chiropractic is an effective treatment that can provide substantial relief. Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for herniated discs, joint degeneration or piriformis syndrome. Thankfully, only in small instances is surgery required.
Dr. Adam Elsey, has years of experience treating the causes of sciatica and has seen many find relief from their pain. If you are experiencing leg pain or numbness, call Dr. Elsey to day at (314) 731-4201 to schedule an appointment.