Do you have lower back pain or pain literally in the rear that runs down into one thigh or below the knee into the leg and even the foot? A doctor may diagnose these symptoms as sciatica, which describes compression of the sciatic nerve.
- Pins and needles
- Electric like shock running through the leg
Depending on the nerve that is affected pain could radiate only into the buttock or all the way down to the foot. A common cause is a lumbar disc herniation or bone spur that presses down on the spinal nerve. Sciatic pain radiates along the nerve, usually from the low back, down the buttocks, into the thigh and leg, below the knee and sometimes into the foot and big toe.
Sciatica usually affects one side of the body.
A doctor may use the terms radicular pain or radiculopathy when talking about sciatica. Radiculopathy is pain/adverse sensation that travels along a nerve. When a spinal nerve root is compressed, pinched or injured, it becomes inflamed. Low back conditions that can contribute to this type of problem are spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis or herniated disc.
Proper Diagnosis & Proper Treatment
The doctor will ask about your symptoms:
- When did the pain begin?
- Where is the pain most intense?
- What activities worsen the pain?
- What activities reduce pain?
- Does the pain go all the way down the leg or stops at the knee?
- Do you feel weakness or tingling in your legs or feet?
A doctor might perform a straight-leg test to see if there is an inflamed nerve. This is a simple exam where you lie on your back and the doctor lifts each leg. If this causes or produces pain and sensations, it can indicate there is a bulging/slipped or ruptured disc.
The compression of the nerve can also cause muscle weakness in the foot. Another exam may be to walk like you normally do, then on your heels and finally on your toes. This checks your balance and lower-body strength.
A doctor will:
- Check your posture
- Range of motion
- Movements that cause pain
- Check the curvature and alignment of your spine
- Check for muscle spasms
- Note your sensations
- Test your reflexes and muscle strength
A doctor may order x-rays, CT scan or MRI.
The CT scan or MRI provides doctors with various images of your spine which can help in diagnosing whatever is causing your symptoms. These tests are then compared to what the doctor took note of during your medical history interview and the physical and neurological examinations. An accurate diagnosis is the first step in figuring out the best treatment plan.
Could something else be causing the nerve pain?
Only a doctor can tell if your symptoms are sciatica. There are other structures in the spine that can cause similar types of pain.
- The sacroiliac joint between the pelvis and sacrum is the lowest part of the spine can cause sciatic pain.
- The facet joint which connects the joints in the back of the spine gets sprained, it can also cause sciatica-like pain.
- A tear in a spinal disc can cause pain down into the leg.
- The hip joint can also cause pain in the thigh, that can radiate outward.
Sciatica Nerve Treatment
Sciatica can be treated non-surgically with:
- Chiropractic care
- Physical therapy
- 24 to 48 hours of bed rest
- Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
Patients with sciatica feel better with time, usually a few weeks. If pain continues, other treatment modalities can be discussed. Muscle spasms can accompany sciatica symptoms and can be treated with heat or ice therapy. A doctor may advise light exercise like short walks and once recovery is established they may give you exercises to strengthen your back and core.
Please contact our chiropractic team today to schedule an appointment if you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica. We are ready to help you feel better and get back on your feet again.
Severe*Sciatica* Pain Relief El Paso, TX. (2020)
A study cited by the health magazine Prevention found that sixty percent of sciatica sufferers who failed to get relief from other treatments found their symptoms improved after chiropractic care. In fact, they got the same level of relief as those who went through surgery – without any of the serious side effects that so often come with surgical procedures.
Chiropractic is effective for treating sciatica because it gets to the source of the problem – relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve.