The sciatic nerves are the largest (and longest) nerves in the body, reaching about the size of your thumb in diameter, and running down the back of each leg. When the sciatic nerves are irritated or otherwise inflammed, doctors refer to this as sciatica and/or sciatic nerve pain.
One of the most common causes of sciatic leg pain is segmental dysfunction of the lumbar spine. This dysfunction is sometimes accompanied by the bulging or herniation of one of the discs which separate each of the spinal bones. This can irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they exit the lumbar spine. The result is inflammation of the nerve root which can cause intense pain shooting down one or both legs which is referred to as sciatica and/or sciatic nerve pain.
In other cases, the sciatic leg pain may be caused by piriformis syndrome. This happens when the piriformis muscle (a small muscle in the hip) shortens or spasms due to trauma or overuse, and compresses or irritates the sciatic nerve beneath the muscle. This can cause pain, tingling and numbness in the hip and along the path of the scaitic nerve descending down the thigh and into the lower leg.
Understandably, many people try to self-diagnose and treat their sciatic leg pain with NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). While symptomatic relief can sometimes be obtained this way, the reality is that unless NSAIDS work noticeably and effectively within a few days, you probably need to seek a more formal evaluation for a correct diagnosis.
“The key is to determine if the sciatic nerve pain is resulting from compression and/or irritation of the lumbar spinal nerve roots, or the piriformis muscle.”
The key is to determine if the sciatic nerve pain is resulting from compression and/or irritation of the lumbar spinal nerve roots, or the piriformis muscle. As a chiropractic doctor, with a history and physical examination, I can accurately determine what is generating your sciatic leg pain. And, in most cases, advanced diagnostic tests such as x-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, and EMG are not needed unless you are nonresponsive to conservative care.
A typical treatment plan in our office starts with chiropractic manipulation of the lumbar spine area, laser therapy and in some cases rehabilitation exercises, or therapeutic massage. We can also teach you appropriate stretching techniques for your condition, and how to strengthen the correct core muscles (abdominals, back, etc.) to reduce strain on the muscles of the lower back and/or piriformis depending on where your pain is being generated. Care plans at our office are typically 2-3 treatment sessions a week for three weeks, followed by re-evaluation to determine the need for further care.
A key difference at our office is that if you are not responding to conservative care and you would like a referral to a specialist, we will be happy to recommend appropriate physicians and help you arrange an appointment.
We are also committed to working with both you and your family physician to make sure you receive the most appropriate care. At your direction, we will send a copy of your consultation note and treatment plan to your designated physician.
Our goal is to help you GET BACK FASTER…to work, to play…to life!