Q: My lower back has been hurting pretty bad over the last few months and it has started affecting my leg when I walk or stand in one place for too long. My neighbor told me I probably have sciatica, but I am not sure if that is what it is. Can you explain it to me? How did I get it? –Shelley V., Port Charlotte, FL
A: Let me start by saying that the only way to know if your condition is sciatica is to be evaluated by a licensed professional that can go over your health history and perform a spinal examination. That being said, I will be happy to give you some general information on the condition. Sciatica usually starts at the lower back and travels down the back of one or both legs. For many, it is severe and debilitating. For others it may only occur occasionally and at a lower intensity, without affecting daily activities. With sciatica something usually irritates it - anything from a fall, lifting something the wrong way, or even a minor sports injury.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body; it is as big as an average thumb, located at the base of the spine, and when it gets inflamed it causes pain. Sciatica is caused by pressure to the sciatic nerve and can be caused my many different things such as spinal misalignments (subluxations), herniated/bulging/degenerative disks, or muscle spasms. Sciatica by definition means the pain has to be radiating through the leg, but frequently it is accompanied by numbness, pins and needles, or malfunctioning limbs.
The good news is sciatica can be treated. The goal is to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pressure on the nerve. The key to successful treatment is finding the cause of the pain and removing it, rather than try to mask the symptoms with medication. Sometimes a muscle spasm in the buttocks may be triggering the shooting pain (piriformis syndrome) or it is sometimes caused when nerves become irritated by a joint that is not aligned properly. Adjustments by a chiropractor can help realign the joint, thereby relieving the pressure on the nerve. Along with the chiropractic treatments for sciatica, our office offers massage therapy which works hand in hand with chiropractic to helps address the muscular component that plays a huge part in sciatic pain. We have found that the combination of the chiropractic adjustment combined with a medical, problem focused massage helps provide quick relief from sciatic pain so you can get your life back!
Dr. Misty Green is a local Chiropractor serving the Cape Coral/North Fort Myers, Florida area for over 20 years. She can be reached at (239) 772-5777 to schedule an appointment. Check out our website at AskDrMisty.com for short and sweet video health tips.
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