The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and begins from nerve roots in the lumbar spinal cord in the low back and extends through the buttock area to send nerve endings down the lower limb.
- Sciatica is nerve pain from irritation of the sciatic nerve.
- It is typically felt from the low back to behind the thigh and radiating down below the knee.
- Treatments for sciatica depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the pain.
- The pain is usually a shooting pain, like electricity.
- It can also burn like fire or tingle much like the feeling when one’s leg ‘goes to sleep’.
The sciatic nerve is made up of several nerve roots coming from the lower back (lumbar area) and sacral area combining to make a nerve bundle which is about as big as a thumb. It starts from the nerve roots located in the lumbar spinal cord to the lower back. This makes it an easy target for compression. Since the sciatic nerve is connected down the back of the thigh and the entire lower leg and foot, it’s not unusual to suffer from the pain from the back down to the leg.
Why Sciatic Pain Happens?
The most common cause is a herniated disk: When a disk develops a tear or crack and bulges into the spinal canal, it can pinch the sciatic nerve. Usually, symptoms clear up within about 6 weeks, but for some people, the pain can last longer.
Under the gluteus maximus muscle there is a group of small but vitally important muscles. These muscles serve to stabilize and rotate the leg at the hip. The largest of which is the piriformis which runs from the sacrum on a slight angle out to the greater trochanter.
This is the big bony bump in the thigh when the hip sticks out to the side. The sciatic nerve has to navigate between piriformis and the other muscles. When piriformis is tight, it compresses the nerve causing pain.
Sciatica Risk Factors
Aside from a pinched nerve from a disc, other causes of sciatica include irritation of the nerve from adjacent bone, tumors, muscle, internal bleeding, infections in or around the lumbar spine, injury, and other causes.
- Age-related changes in the spine, such as arthritis and degenerating discs, are a risk factor for sciatica.
- Obesity: Excess weight, especially in the abdomen, increases the stress on the spine.
- Prolonged sitting and a sedentary lifestyle are risk factors for sciatica and other back problems.
How to Diagnose Sciatica?
Sciatica is diagnosed with a physical exam and medical history. The typical symptoms and certain examination maneuvers help the health-care professional to diagnose sciatica. Sometimes, X-rays and other tests, such as CT scan, MRI scan, and electromyogram, are used to further define the exact causes of sciatica.
Don’t expect a chilled-out spa massage if you have sciatica. In this instance, trigger-point therapy is best. Registered Massage Therapist applies pressure to irritated and inflamed areas, or trigger points, in the piriformis muscle, as well as in muscles in the lower back and glutes. Typically, he schedules treatments 5 to 7 days apart.
Pressure and technique are adjusted depending on the individual’s tolerance to deep tissue massage. At times, the most effective is gentle vibrations on the buttock and sacrum; other times a deep tissue massage is what is most needed. If patients don’t see progress by the fourth visit, they need to try another form of therapy.
Sixty percent of people with sciatica who don’t get relief from other therapies and try spinal manipulation and experience the same degree of pain relief as patients who eventually had surgery, found a 2010 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. After a 3 times a week treatment for 4 weeks, clients taper off treatment as they feel better. Spinal manipulation creates a response in the nervous system that relieves pain and restores normal mobility to the injured area. It also reduces inflammation, creating an environment that promotes the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Our Chiropractor will evaluate posture, gait and range of motion along with hands on check of the lumbar spine. A TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve) is a muscle stimulating device that helps reduce pain and muscle spasms by use of small electric charges of current.
Physiotherapy and Exercises
Physiotherapy will allow patients to regain strength and flexibility in their bodies. This may involve a series of exercises, ergonomics, and body mechanics to treat back pain. The series of exercises will primarily be focused on strengthening and stretching movements to strengthen the spine while relieving pain.
Many exercises can help strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. Most of these back exercises focus not only on the lower back, but also the abdominal (stomach) muscles and gluteus (buttocks) and hip muscles. Taken together, these strong core muscles can provide pain relief because they support the spine, keeping it in alignment and facilitating movements that extend or twist the spine with less chance of injury or damage.
Stretching is usually recommended to alleviate sciatic pain. Stretches for sciatica are designed to target muscles that cause pain when they are tight and inflexible. Hamstring stretching is almost always an important part of a sciatica exercise program.
You can get relief as soon as the first session, though it takes about 12 sessions to see improvements. The practice is centered on the philosophy of achieving or maintaining well being through the open flow of energy via specific pathways in the body. Hair-thin needles (that are usually not felt) are inserted into the skin near the area of pain. In some cases we may recommend an MRI just to rule out anything serious (badly herniated disc, tumors, etc), but for many patients, acupuncture is all they need.
For acute sciatic pain, heat and/or ice packs are readily available and can help alleviate the leg pain, especially in the initial phase. Usually ice or heat is applied for approximately 20 minutes, and repeated every two hours. Most people use ice first, but some people find more relief with heat. The two may be alternated. It is best to apply ice with a cloth or towel placed between the ice and skin to avoid an ice burn.
Tension headache is a muscle-contraction-type headache and is the most common type of headaches. Causes of tension headaches are trigger points (nodules or muscle knots) within a taut band of skeletal muscle that refer pain into the head and neck.
Registered Massage Therapist Einar Jokub is experienced and successful in identifying and deactivating trigger points. “Trigger point therapy is very effective technique to get rid of pain associated with chronic tension headache usually in one or two treatments. I am ready to help you.”
Back pain is pain felt in the back that usually originates from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.
Back pain may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may radiate into the arms and hands as well as the legs or feet, and may include symptoms other than pain. These symptoms may include tingling, weakness or numbness.
Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem, with two-thirds of the population having neck pain at some point in their lives.
Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can be caused by numerous other spinal problems. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae. Joint disruption in the neck creates pain, as does joint disruption in the upper back.
Arthralgia (from Greek arthro-, joint + -algos, pain) literally means joint pain; it is a symptom of injury, infection, illnesses (in particular arthritis) or an allergic reaction to medication.
According to MeSH, the term “arthralgia” should only be used when the condition is non-inflammatory, and the term “arthritis” should be used when the condition is inflammatory.
Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. In many cases, these injuries are due to overuse or acute trauma of a part of the body when participating in a certain activity. For example, runner’s knee is a painful condition generally associated with running, while tennis elbow is a form of repetitive stress injury at the elbow. Other types of injuries can be caused by a hard contact with something. This can often cause a broken bone or torn ligament or tendon.
Happy Family Wellness Clinic is knowledgeable and experienced in handling patients with motor vehicle – related injuries.Whether it is muscle or joint pain, whiplash, neurological problems or other musculoskeletal injuries, we can help you.
Arthritis (from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation; plural: arthritides) is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and related autoimmune diseases. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection.