Sciatica 101: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Sciatica can be an excruciating and often limiting medical condition that affects many Americans. Sciatica symptoms can radiate from the lower back to the lower legs, making previously easy activities incredibly painful and challenging.
The path to healing begins with education – and it’s no different in the case of sciatica. So let’s explore the basics of sciatica, to shed some much-needed light onto the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
What Causes Sciatica Pain?
Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs the distance from your lower back down each leg. Changes to your lower lumbar spine can cause agitation, inflammation, and pinching of the sciatic nerve, which results in pain.
Causes of sciatica include:
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal that results in pinching of the nerve)
- Muscle spasms
- Vertebral disc degeneration
Some lifestyle factors increase your risk of developing sciatica. Advanced age, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and workplace hazards all increase the risk of developing sciatica.
Your old mattress can cause back pain! Ensuring that you have the best mattress for your back problems is an essential preventative measure to reduce pain. For more information about mattresses and back pain, please read our blog about the Best Mattress For Back Pain.
Symptoms of Sciatica Nerve Pain
Sciatica back pain is a common symptom of the condition – but what are some other symptoms of sciatica pain?
Sciatica symptoms in the legs and lower back range in severity, from mild to severe. Common sciatica nerve pain symptoms include:
- Back pain, especially to the lower back
- Pain in the legs and butt, which can get worse when sitting or when putting pressure against the back of the legs
- Radiating hip pain and limited range of motion
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the legs
- Shooting pains up and down the legs
Diagnosis of sciatica is an important step to receiving proper treatment. An assessment by a general physician or licensed chiropractor should be done to assess your symptoms. The evaluation will involve testing your reflexes in the legs. Various tests including standing on your toes, walking on your heels, and stretches will be done to determine the extent of sciatica.
Diagnostic imaging can also be done to get more information about the extent of nerve injury. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can be done in cases of severe sciatica to learn more about the location of the injury.
Sciatica Treatment Options
Treatment for sciatica depends on the extent of your symptoms. At-home solutions for mild sciatica include hot and cold therapy and regular stretching. Increasing your physical activity can also positively impact your symptoms.
For short-term pain coverage, medications such as anti-inflammatories, analgesic pain medications, and muscle relaxants can be used to manage symptoms. It is not advised to use these medications long term – as they are not treating the source of the problem. They are just covering up the pain.
More invasive treatment options include extensive physical therapy, steroid injections into the lower back, and surgery to release the sciatica nerve.
Chiropractic Care for Sciatica
Does chiropractic care work for treating sciatica? Yes, with great success!
Through spinal manipulation and mobilization, a trained chiropractor can release restricted joints that are compressing nerves within the spinal column. In doing this, less pressure and pinching of the sciatic nerve occurs – and the patient has reduced sciatica symptoms.
Regular chiropractic care will help restore proper joint motion within the spine, release tight muscles in the lower back, and reduce irritation to the sciatic nerve. It’s a fantastic treatment option for those who are tired of suffering from sciatic pain.
For more information about the benefits of chiropractic care for sciatica, please visit siragusochiropractic.net, or to schedule an appointment call Dr. Frank Siraguso’s office at 816-272-3580.