Sciatica is a fairly common condition, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. Technically, it refers to pain in and around the sciatic nerves that are caused by compression or irritation of the spine. However, many people use the term more loosely, using it to refer to pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerves at any place along their length. Here are some facts to clear up the confusion:
Each sciatic nerve runs from the spine, through its side of the buttocks, to the bottom of one foot. This makes it so you have two – one for each leg. Problems with either one of these are called sciatica. Typically, only one side is affected at a time.
Irritation of a sciatic nerve can cause pain in any part of the body that is supplied by it. This means that a problem in your back can easily result in excruciating foot pain, cramps in your calves, and other such problems.
While most pain of this sort does originate in the back, this isn't always the case. You may also have problems like too much tension in one of the buttock muscles the affected nerve runs through. For example, inflammation or tension in the piriform muscle, which lies deep underneath the big gluteus maximus, is one of the first places to look if back treatments don't help you. Some doctors refer to this non-spine-related pain as "sciatica-like," while others will still call it sciatica.
While strong, sharp pains are almost universal among sufferers, it isn't the only sign of a problem. Tingling, numbness, prickling, muscle weakness, and sensations of pressure are also hallmarks of nerve problems. When they happen between the spine and the foot, sciatic nerve impingement is often the cause.
Sciatic pain is actually a symptom of another problem, and that problem is whatever is causing the impingement on the nerve. Since this nerve is most often aggravated by a herniated disc or other sources of irritation and compression, a chiropractor in Columbus NE will check your back as an immediate first step. Then, if a spinal problem is confirmed, he will prescribe a series of spinal adjustments. These help to relieve pressure on the nerve and can help stop fluid from leaking from a herniated disc.
You will also be prescribed exercises to help stop the pain, numbness, and other problems that come from an irritated nerve. If you are found to have piriformis syndrome – caused by a tight muscle in your buttock – exercises to loosen that muscle will be part of the regimen.
If you're suffering from pain or other signs of sciatica, make an appointment with us here at Hinze Chiropractic Center in Columbus. We'll give you an exam and start the treatments you need to walk pain-free.
Soon, you'll be able to move without fear of problems once more.