2 Your Health

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, thigh, 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 and sensation of the legs and feet.

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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, and prolonged standing. 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. Without an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your problem, it is unlikely that you will ever have a successful resolution of your complaints.

What is the best treatment for sciatica?

Let me ask you a simple question. If your finger was pinched in a 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? The obvious answer is no. You would simply holler, “Help, get the door off my finger.”

Sciatica is really no different. Sciatica is the result of a pinched nerve in the lower back that radiates into the butt and leg. A pinched sciatic nerve is usually related to long standing structural or bio-mechanical problems in the lower back; including misalignment, spinal curvature, leg imbalance, disc degeneration, disc protrusions, and spinal stenosis (pinched nerve openings).

How does a chiropractor help a pinched sciatic nerve?

Eliminating sciatic pain is about as simple as getting the door off the pinched finger. When a chiropractor makes a spinal correction, or spinal adjustment, the pressure on the nerve is quickly reduced and the nerve pain will begin to subside.

The benefits of chiropractic spinal adjustments may vary depending on how long you wait for spinal care. The longer the nerve remains pinched, the longer it will take to heal. My advice: Find a great chiropractor to help you eliminate sciatic pain without drugs, shots, or surgery.

Dr. Craig W. Brue is an author, lecturer, and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke, Ariz.

Pain Management and How Massage Can Help

Heidi Overman, LMT

Pain—it will disrupt your day, your week, your months, your retirement years. But what can you do? A lifetime of drugs? Surgeries? Shots? How about regular massage?

Yes. Regular massage can help with muscular pain management.

Have you ever had a doctor tell you your pain is muscular? Then they prescribe some pain medication, and have you go to a physical therapist, or give you a shot? They rarely have you see a massage therapist, however, most massage therapists are trained in kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and more. Massage therapists are trained in modalities that specifically address muscular pain.

Many of my clients come in complaining and at the end of their rope—they are in pain. They don’t want surgery, the physical therapy worked for a while or didn’t help, pain meds have other side effects, and shots aren’t working and they can only have them once every few months.

There are many reasons why massage helps reduce pain. More importantly, regular massage is preventative and can even help in preventing pain from returning.

Why is massage therapy effective in pain relief and management?

Below are just a few reasons why you would see a massage therapist for pain management:

* Massage therapists work with muscle fibers to “reteach” them how to release and relax.

* Massage therapy helps “break” the muscle patterns and repetitive motion issues.

* Massage therapy helps to “close the pain gate” by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.

* During a massage, muscle temperature increases due to an increase in blood flow. When muscle temperature increases, the elasticity and flexibility of tissues increase and muscles are able to loosen and stretch.

* When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. An increase of muscle tension is a reflex reaction to stress, the body’s way of guarding against injury or pain. Stress becomes a physical and mental effect that leads to chronic pain in the body. Massage reduces stress.

* Muscular injuries (whiplash, strain, sprain, pulled muscle, crick) are best helped by muscular modalities. Trigger point release, MFT, etc., can be highly effective.

Pain can be very disruptive to your life, but you want to be active and enjoy your life. Regular massage can help make that happen. Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly massage will help train those muscles, which can help in the healing process and lead to pain relief. Be patient, it is a modality that takes time and consistency. But with that, my clients have had great success in relieving chronic pain and continue to prevent it from coming back!

If you are interested in a therapeutic massage, please call MEND for an appointment at 520-771-1514. Our website is www.mymendingplace.com and we’re located at MEND Therapeutic Massage and Restorative Skincare 15920 N Oracle Rd., Ste 170 Tucson, AZ 85739 (next to the Golden Goose).