Sciatica describes persistent pain felt along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, down through the buttock, and into the lower leg.
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body, running from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of each leg.
It controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet.
Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low-back and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood.
Sciatica is actually a set of symptoms—not a diagnosis for what is irritating the nerve root and causing the pain.
Sciatica occurs most frequently in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Most often, it tends to develop as a result of general wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine, not as a result of injury.
The most common symptom associated with sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back and down one leg; however, symptoms can vary widely depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected. Some may experience a mild tingling, a dull ache, or even a burning sensation, typically on one side of the body. Sometimes the pain switches between right and left sides.
Some patients also report:
Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting
Burning or tingling down the leg
Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
A constant pain on one side of the rear
A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
Pain from sciatica often begins slowly, gradually intensifying over time. For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others, the sciatica pain might be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse.
In addition, the pain can worsen after prolonged sitting, sneezing, coughing, bending, or other sudden movements. Seek immediate medical attention with any symptoms of progressive lower extremity weakness and/or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Your doctor of chiropractic will begin by taking a complete patient history. You’ll be asked to describe your pain and to explain when the pain began, how often you have the pain and what activities lessen or intensify the pain.
Forming a diagnosis will also require a physical and neurological exam, in which the doctor will pay special attention to your spine and legs. You may be asked to perform some basic activities that will test your sensory and muscle strength, as well as your ranges of motion. X-rays may be taken of your back.
Finally the doctor will arrive at a diagnosis and treatment will begin that first visit.
For most people, sciatica responds very well to conservative care, especially chiropractic. Keeping in mind that lower back pain is a symptom and not a stand-alone medical condition, treatment plans will often vary depending on the underlying cause of the problem. Chiropractic offers a non-invasive (non-surgical), drug-free treatment option. The goal of chiropractic care is to restore spinal movement, thereby improving function while decreasing pain and inflammation.
A chiropractic treatment plan may cover several different treatment methods, including but not limited to spinal adjustments, ice/heat therapy, TENS or electric stimulation, soft tissue or manual therapy, traction, Kinesiotaping and rehabilitative exercises.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the patient will need to be treated multiple times. The doctor will explain your treatment plan at the second visit.
Why multiple visits? This can be compared to working out. If you don't exercise for a long time, your body is out of shape and it takes several trips to the gym to get in shape and build up your strength and endurance. Similarly, if you have never been adjusted, and do not practice good back health, it takes a few visits to put your body back in alignment and proper posture.
Call Coughlin Chiropractic at 317-546-9882 for your appointment.
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Sources: ACAToday, WebMD