Sciatica: A “pain in the butt” and leg
Craig W. Brue, D.C.
Sciatica is often associated with pain, numbness, tingling and aching in the lower back, hip, buttock, leg, calf and foot. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest of all the body’s nerves, running from the lower back (the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae), through the buttocks and down the back of the leg. The sciatic nerve controls the muscles of the legs and provides sensation to the legs and feet.
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica is generally caused by nerve compression and the problem is most commonly a result of a misaligned lower spine that is pinching the root of the sciatic nerve. The most common causes of sciatica are related to these spinal conditions: disc degeneration, disc bulges/herniations, retrolisthesis (posterior slip of a vertebra), spondylolisthesis (anterior slip of a lower lumbar vertebra), spinal scoliosis (curvature), pelvic/sacral imbalance from a short leg, foraminal stenosis (pinched nerve openings) and osteo-arthritic changes associated with aging. All of these conditions will cause a sciatic nerve to be impinged or compressed.
How is sciatica diagnosed?
Sciatica is usually quite simple to identify through a case history and examination. Typically sciatic pain is increased by certain movements, sitting, prolonged standing and certain positions. Although one cannot see the sciatic nerve on an x-ray, imaging studies will help to rule out pathology (tumors and fractures) and lead to an accurate diagnosis.
What is the best treatment for sciatica?
Let me ask you a simple question. If you pinched your finger in the door what would you do? Would you ask for some aspirin, ibuprofen or oxycodone? Would you ask someone to inject you with cortico-steroids? Would you ask someone to cut off your finger? No one in their right mind would ever consider the above options. You would simply ask, “Would someone please get the door off my finger?”
Sciatica is really no different. The simple truth about sciatica is that the lower back, butt and leg pain is the result of a pinched nerve. And how do you un-pinch a nerve? Chiropractors understand that the pain related to sciatica is from a structural or biomechanical problem in the lower spine. When a chiropractor makes a spinal correction, or adjustment, the pressure on the nerve is reduced and the nerve pain will heal. Eliminating sciatic pain is about as simple as taking the door off the pinched finger.
Doctors of chiropractic specialize in the correction of spinal misalignment by specific spinal adjustments. The results may vary depending on how long you wait for spinal care. You can be assured of one fact, the longer the nerve remains pinched, the longer it will take to heal. My advice – immediately seek conservative chiropractic care if you are having any issues with lower back, hip, butt and leg pain. The sooner you start chiropractic care, the sooner you will feel better.
Dr. Craig W. Brue is an author, lecturer and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke, Arizona.