Medically it refers to pain in the back of the leg due to irritation of the sciatic nerve which is made up from the L4 to S1 nerve roots which exit from the lower back. The sciatic nerve is very large and it runs through the buttock and makes it way down the lower limb, it is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve has a significant function and supplies the connection for almost all of the skin of the leg, the muscles on the back of the thigh, and those of the lower leg and foot. It is like a rope and when it is irritated it can affect the hamstring, calf and foot.
What do I feel?
Sciatic pain can vary in severity from a mild to annoying ache to totally intolerable/debilitating depending on the cause and severity. There are two main reasons for sciatic pain, and when it is felt there is varying levels of discomfort. The first reason is an indirect irritation from inflammation of surrounding structures. These structures include the joints, muscles, ligaments and discs. The other less common cause is direct pressure on the nerve, which causes lack of sensation in the leg and foot; if it is severe enough paralysis can occur. This is generally occurred by a herniated disc where its internal contacts put direct pressure on the nerve. The most common symptom of sciatica is lower back pain that extends down through the hip, buttock and down one leg. Other symptoms of sciatica include hot pain in the buttock, aching in the buttock, back of thigh and calf muscle, pain in the ankle and foot, pins and needles, numbness and tingling, increased pain when lifting, straining or coughing and loss of power to the muscles in the leg and foot.
WHAT CAUSES SCIATICA?
- Disc Injury – Disc injuries occur due to compression and rotational movements of the disc under a specific load. This happens when someone lifts and twists, particularly activities done away from the body. This can also occur over time with repetitive movements, during lifting when something is too heavy or an unexpected load is present and commonly when a very minor event occurs. An example of this is simply bending down to pick up a light object off the ground, and triggering the disc injury. This is also most notable in the morning as the disc has more fluid and is much tighter so more vulnerable to injury. Another common factor for disc injuries is those individuals who have an occupation which requires prolonged sitting with bad posture.
- Stenosis/Spinal Tumour – As explained above. X-rays requested and a referral to a specialised health care professional is highly recommended.
- Virus – Shingles is a virus which directly affects the nerve root, it is characterised with a burning pain and rash along the path of the nerve.
- Organ referred pain – Referred from a specific body organ which needs to be identified and referred for medical care.
How can we help?
We will perform a full spinal examination in order to assess for spinal misalignments and particular sciatic nerve irritation. Correction of each spinal misalignment does not automatically correct the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic treatment takes the load and stress of the surrounding spinal structures in order for the sciatic nerve to recover and fully heal over time. Treatment success is dependent on many factors such as how long the problem has been there, the amount of wear and tear (degeneration) present, whether there is referred pain, posture, occupational stress and social stresses all have an impact on the outcome.
To discuss your sciatica pain and to arrange an appointment for treatment please do not hesitate to contact us to make an appointment to get you back to your best.