Sciatica pain affects a lot of people every year. For most people, the pain starts in their lower back and radiates down one or both of their legs. Others experience the pain, numbness, or tingling just in their legs, feet or toes. Sciatica takes its name from the sciatic nerve, which is the longest and largest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve originates in the lower back area know as the lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve contains five nerves which run all the way down into your toes. For this reason, some people experience pain, or a tingling running from their lower back, down their leg, and into their toes.
Sciatic pain has a lot of ways of getting your attention, but no matter how you experience sciatica you should identify and correct the root problem so you don’t continue to experience pain or develop chronic sciatica.
Some Ways You May Experience Sciatic Pain
- Lower back pain
- Buttock pain
- Numbness in your legs or feet
- A tingling sensation running down your leg, even into your toes
- Numbness or pain in your big toe
- A “Pins and Needles” sensation in your leg
- Weakness in your muscles
Naturally when you feel pain, you start to wonder what is causing it, and how it should be treated. For many people that means doing an internet search. No doubt if you have been searching the internet for answers you have seen recommendations ranging from taking medication, epidural steroid injections, to surgery. Obviously, surgery should be a last case solution for any problem.
So, let’s start with what sciatica actually is, and what causes it.
Sciatica is the pain that comes from the sciatic nerve being irritated, pinched, pressure on the sciatic nerve, or inflammation to the nerve and/or the area directly surrounding the nerve. As you can see, sciatica is a physical problem and not a disease. It is also something the chiropractors at Kempsville Chiropractic treat successfully on a daily basis.
By far, the most common cause of sciatica is a misalignment, or subluxation, in the vertebra of the lumbar spine (lower back) causing the sciatic nerve to be irritated or pinched. While it may be tempting to wait and see if the pain goes away on its own, or to take pain killers, I have to advise against that for several reasons.
- Taking pain medication does not correct the problem. It just masks the pain.
- If your spine is out of alignment, it needs to be gently restored to its proper position so your nervous system can function optimally. The nerves control the muscles and organs of the body.
- Once you have sciatic pain and don’t get it corrected, you will continue to have sciatic pain. Since only 10% of your nervous system feels pain, the sciatica may appear to come and go, but the root cause will have been left uncorrected. Subluxations left uncorrected will lead to spinal degeneration disease (osteoarthritis, disc degeneration, and disc bulges, protrusions, or herniation).
- If you do not correct the underlying problem of your sciatic pain, you can end up with more problems such as: constipation, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, menstrual problems, urinary problems, leg swelling or edema, and other problems.
Causes of subluxation (spinal misalignment) to the lumbar spine that can result in sciatica.
- Lifting an object incorrectly
- Poor posture (both sitting and standing)
- Pregnancy (the physical changes the body goes through can put a lot of pressure on the lumbar spine)
- Muscle strain and its inflammation
- A slip and fall
- Playing sports
Spinal subluxations, or misalignments occur regularly through normal activities. The chiropractors at Kempsville Chiropractic gently correct subluxations throughout the spine and neck on a daily basis. As chiropractors, our initial approach to dealing with your sciatica pain will be to identify the root cause of your pain and work to correct that. Once we have identified the underlying cause of your problem, we will work with you to correct your problem, not just mask the problem like pain medication does. Chiropractic uses gentle adjustments that allow your spinal to be properly aligned. This relieves the pressure from the nerves, allows the central nervous system to function as it should, and alleviates the sciatica pain.
In the process of identifying the cause of your sciatic pain, we will conduct any necessary exams. These exams can include: chiropractic, orthopedic, neurological, physical exams, and x-rays if needed. In addition to these exams, we also have non-invasive computer scans that will let us know exactly how your nervous system is functioning. While subluxations are the main cause of sciatica, there are other potential causes as well.
Potential causes of sciatica pain include the following:
- Subluxations or misalignments of the spine
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal the nerves run through)
- Disk degeneration
- Piriformis muscle spasm
- Disc bulge or disc herniation
- Tumor pressing on the sciatic nerve
Chiropractic care is the recommended first course of action for dealing with sciatica and its pain. As you can see, sciatica is not just something to ignore or self-treat with pain medication. The consequences of uncorrected sciatic problems can be very inconvenient — to say the least.