If you have been experiencing low back pain, you may assume that the condition could be caused by working out or by being on your feet too much. However, low back pain that's accompanied by other symptoms — like pins-and-needle sensations, muscle weakness, pain in the buttocks or legs, etc., you may be suffering from a condition known as sciatica. It's important to see your doctor and/or a chiropractor to get diagnosed and treated.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve runs down your lower back and down through the buttocks all the way to your feet on both sides of the body. Sometimes, this nerve can become compressed, which can then cause sciatica — also known as lumbar radiculopathy — which is an inflammatory condition of the nerve.
What Causes Sciatica?
Your vertebrae are separated by discs that cushion your spine and ensure flexibility when you are active. If you accidentally overuse or strain these discs, you can develop a herniated, or slipped, disc. When a disc is herniated, it can begin to bulge and place pressure on the sciatic nerve, thus causing sciatica.
Sciatica can also be a side effect of
- Piriformis syndrome: a condition where the piriformis muscle involuntary contracts due to a sedentary lifestyle or due to an accident, like slipping on ice. Because the muscle is overly tense, it can compress the sciatic nerve.
- Degenerative disc disorder: this condition causes the disc cartilage to wear down, thus causing spinal bones to extend over one another and compress the sciatic nerve.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: this condition causes the spinal canal to narrow, thus placing pressure on the spinal cord and sciatic nerve roots.
It's important to get to the root cause of your sciatica.
How can You Treat this Condition?
Your doctor may recommend rest, especially if your sciatica was caused by over-activity or a repetitive strain injury (RSI). They may also recommend muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory medications to ease your pain.
You may also want to visit a chiropractor to treat your sciatica. A chiropractor can perform a series of adjustments that will put your discs back into proper alignment. These kinds of adjustments may be enough to relieve and heal your sciatica.
Your chiropractor may offer other modalities, like ultrasound therapy, massage, or ice/cold therapy to ease your pain. If you suffer from pins-and-needle sensations, your chiropractor may offer to use transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS) devices. These devices interrupt the flow of pain signals to the brain.
Contact a chiropractor in your area today for more information about sciatica.