Lower back pain and sciatica can be painful and debilitating and is one of the main reasons for doctor visits in the US. Those suffering from sciatica in particular report pain and tingling in their legs and feet that is unrelenting and diminishes their ability to properly live their life. From golfing and hiking to simply sitting in a chair or picking up their kids, sciatica is a very painful and life altering condition.
So what is sciatica anyway? Sciatica (pronounced sigh-at-eh-kah) is the irritation of the sciatic nerve from the spine to the feet. The sciatic nerve is composed of multiple nerves from the spine that come together to form the thickest nerve of the body (width of your pinky). It is not necessarily a medical diagnosis but a symptom indicative of a greater medical condition including herniated or bulging disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and/or spondylolisthesis. On other occasions, sciatica is caused by a muscle that pinches the nerve in the buttocks called the piriformis. Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
Pain that is worse when sitting
Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling, or searing (versus a dull ache)
Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk
Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes (rarely occurs only in the foot)
While there are many methods to help treat symptoms like medication, acupuncture, massage, and even physical therapy, eventually you must deal with the cause of the sciatica in order to eliminate the symptoms. In particular, the lower back issues such as the bulging/herniated disc, degenerative disc, or spinal stenosis must be treated initially as well as addressing the muscular involvement due to compensation.
Chiropractic, in particular, has a very positive effect on sciatica and lower back pain because of its ability to address the root cause. Spinal mobility is the key to proper healing of the sciatic nerve branches and certain therapies. Pulsed Cold Laser and Muscle Therapy can address the cause and the symptoms in a precise manner. Pulsed cold laser allows for deep penetration to the disc/nerve level and promotes anti-inflammation and healing of the pinched sciatic nerve without any irritation or pain to the patient. Coupled with core stabilization exercises, sciatica can be a thing of the past and you can get back to living pain free.
The first step is to properly diagnose the cause of the sciatica rather than just label it. Precise functional and orthopedic assessments are necessary and imaging may be needed to confirm or deny the diagnosis. Sciatica may be a debilitating and painful condition, but can be treated successfully with conservative measures easily and effectively.