Sciatica is one of the largest buzzwords when referring to pain in the low back and legs. Before we dive into how to treat it, let’s learn a little about the Sciatic nerve.
The Sciatic nerve is the thickest AND longest nerve in the entire body! It is made up of nerve branches that come out of the lower spine, bundle together, travel down through the pelvis, under the glutes and down the back of the leg. If the nerve becomes compressed in any of the areas it travels through, and pain is most commonly felt in the low back, glute, hamstrings, or outside of the calf.
There are many reasons people develop Sciatica, most known but some unknown. The most common reasons are sitting for too long or in a position causing strain on the nerve, frequently sitting on a wallet, a fall onto the buttocks, long ride in a car, or sitting cross-legged. A sit-to-stand desk is a great way to prevent Sciatica while at work if you’re at a desk for most of the day.
Sciatica is one of the most common complaints chiropractors see and they are very good at diagnosing and treating it. The first thing a Chiropractor will do is figure out the location of the compression. The most common places to check are the low back, in the pelvis, and in the glute. Any or all of these areas can cause the typical ‘Sciatica’ type pain traveling down the leg.
The most effective treatment strategy is a combination of 3 things:
1. Low back/ pelvis adjustment- this will ensure the compression is not coming from the lumbar nerve roots or the pelvis positioning
2. Low back/ glute stretching- focusing on the muscles that may be tight causing pressure on the sciatic nerve (Piriformis muscle!!)
3. Therapeutic exercises- strengthening the core and glutes will make certain that both the joints continue to move properly and the muscles are activating how they should.
A collective approach of treatment will attack this sometimes stubborn condition from all angles and alleviate the nagging pain that many people complain about every day. A chiropractic adjustment alone may feel good for the time being, but it’s important to prevent the pain from coming back again. An easy home exercise program is a great additional benefit to every patient during active care. Ask your Chiropractor if they make sure they take the necessary steps in treating you.
If you or someone you know has been dealing with these symptoms and wants lasting relief, schedule your next appointment at Metro Family Chiropractic & Sports Therapy today! Call us at (248) 265-3330.
Source: Koes BW, Van Tulder MW, Peul WC. Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica. Bmj. 2007 Jun 21;334(7607):1313-7.