Do you struggle with Sciatica? You’re not alone. In fact, it’s a problem that affects many people. But the good news is that there are simple, effective solutions to help you overcome this challenge, as long as the true cause is diagnosed. In this post, we’ll teach you the most common causes of Sciatica and show you exactly how they can each be treated.
What Is Sciatica and What Are the Symptoms?
Sciatica simply refers to nerve pain that travels down the leg. Depending on where the nerve is impinged, it can present with varying symptoms and will require different treatments. The nerves that travel down into the legs exit out of the spine in the low back and tailbone region, making this the target area for treatment rather than the leg. The nerve impingement causes irritation that results in symptoms like numbness, tingling/pins & needles, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, burning pain, and shooting/electricity pain. This can be accompanied by local pain in the low back/glutes from the affected joints or muscles.
What Are the Causes of Sciatica?
The most common causes of Sciatica are disc herniations (often referred to as disc bulges or slipped discs), shifted vertebrae in the low back, spinal stenosis, and entrapment under a muscle in the low back or glutes. There are also joints in the low back that can cause pseudo-Sciatica, named that way because there is no nerve involvement, just joint irritation causing pain to refer down the leg.
Disc Herniations: Intervertebral Discs are structures that sit in between our vertebrae (stacked bones of the spine) and are composed of a gel-like substance surrounded by a casing of connective tissue. Their job is to lessen the impact of compression on the spine, and when we overload the discs through improper movement they can rupture. The connective tissue tears, allowing the gel-like substance to leak out of the disc which starts to push on and irritate the adjacent nerves of the low back.
Shifted Vertebrae: Since the nerves for the legs exit out of holes between vertebrae of the lumbar spine/tailbone when we have a shift in one of those vertebrae it can decrease the space of that hole causing impingement of the nerve trying to pass through.
Stenosis: This is a more degenerative condition where there is decreased space in the spinal canal where the spinal cord sits. Since this impingement takes place at the spinal cord before the individual nerves branch off to each leg, the pain is felt in both legs.
Muscle Entrapment: The Sciatic Nerve through the low back and glutes in close proximity to certain muscles, so when those muscles get tight it can put pressure on the nerve.
Pseudo-Sciatica: There are two joints at the bottom of the spine called the Sacroiliac (SI) Joints, they are on each side of your tailbone where it attaches to your pelvic bones. When there is significant displacement or slippage of the SI joints we can get referred pain down the glutes into the back of the thigh. This referred pain is often misdiagnosed as Sciatica.
Why Is My Sciatica Not Going Away?
Sciatic nerve pain can go up and down based on the inflammation in the area. This may trick us into thinking there is no longer a problem. If you are receiving treatment and are still dealing with problems, it is likely that the exact cause of your Sciatica is not being targeted.
What Can I Expect From a Chiropractor for Sciatica?
Given Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by many different structures the treatments for each condition should look different. The main treatment used across most of these conditions is Flexion-Distraction, which is targeted decompression of the low back. Unlike general decompression or traction tables where you strap a belt around the low back and are pulled by a machine, Flexion-Distraction is a technique where specific vertebrae/regions of the low back can be targeted with decompression at that exact area.
This is crucial for Disc Herniations or Misaligned Vertebrae because those areas are often very stiff and stuck, so general decompression will decompress the other areas and not enough where it is especially needed.
When there is joint involvement, Chiropractic Adjustments are vital in restoring proper alignment of the vertebra and normal movement of the joints. If a muscle is causing the impingement it is important to release it, but also to discover why that muscle is tight in the first place and correct that as well. There is often muscle release done in all Sciatic pain relief treatments because the irritated nerves cause the muscles to become very tight and sore.
How Long Does It Take a Chiropractor To Fix a Pinched Nerve?
Each cause described above will have a different healing time. Once a thorough assessment is completed your Chiropractor in Mississauga will be able to tell you how long it will take.
Booking an initial assessment and chiropractic treatment at Body Science is the first step towards a healthier, more resilient you. Not only will you learn the true cause of your Sciatica, but you’ll also receive a plan to resolve it for good. Don’t wait any longer to start seeing the results you deserve. Book your appointment now!
We can help you with many common conditions including chronic pain, neck pain, muscle imbalances and sciatica pain relief.