Simply put, sciatica is irritation and/or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It is made from nerve roots that emanate higher up in the lumbar spine (low back). It travels down through the pelvis into the buttocks then down the back of the thigh where it splits into two other nerves and supplies the calf and foot.
What causes sciatica? Basically the sciatic nerve can be trapped anywhere along its route down the leg. The most common and most serious cause is a bulging disc in the lower back. Another less serious and not as common cause is irritation of the sciatic nerve by a muscle in the buttocks called the piriformis muscle as illustrated by the picture on the left. While these are the most common cause it can also be caused by a tumor, infection or other pathology.
This is a serious condition and one that you should seek professional advice about. So if you have sciatic pain down the back of your leg/s especially if it goes past your knee/s call for an appointment today. The type and length of treatment you require depends on the cause and severity of your sciatica.
Disc Herniation or a “slipped disc”
Again this is one of the more serious spinal issues that people can suffer from. The intervertebral discs are made up of two parts:
1. The Nucleus (Central portion) The nucleus is made up of a thick viscous gel.
2. The Annulus (Outer Portion) This portion is made up of a fibrous ring which surrounds the nucleus.
As you can see in the above picture, tearing in the outer annulus can lead to the gel of the nucleus bulging through the cracks.
Most disc herniations occur in the lower back and lower neck. Interestingly some studies suggest that up to 50% of the population may have a mild disc herniation and not know about it. The outside of the disc is a pain sensitive structure and can cause considerable pain in itself. Also, if the disc bulges significantly it can press on the nerve roots and cause leg pain (sciatica) or arm pain along with other neurological symptoms.
Again, if you have the above symptoms you should get yourself an appointment with a professional.
As a Chiropractor another common complaint we treat is of course neck pain. The average head weighs somewhere between 5 to 7 kilograms and our poor necks have to hold this weight all day whilst also allowing a great degree of movement. It’s not surprising that neck pain is so common. Neck pain is caused by many things such as motor vehicle accident, poor posture or sports injuries and is made worse by people spending hours at computers or on their iPhone.
Our Chiropractor uses gentle, effective adjustments to increase the motion of the joints and decrease muscular spasm . Although it is not as simple as that, the body works as a single synchronous functional unit. This means that we need to fix the whole body to fix any one part. Often it is necessary for your Chiropractor to also treat the middle back and shoulders to help with neck pain.
Lower Back Pain
If you suffer from lower back pain you are certainly not alone. Did you know that back pain is the second most common reason for absenteeism from the workplace and also the second main reason people visit their GP after the common cold. Nearly everyone will experience a severe bout of lower back pain in their lifetime.
Getting on top of the problem quickly is key to long term recovery. Back pain that lasts longer than 6 weeks is bad news, continuing pain and re-occurence in the future are likely if the pain continues for this length of time or longer.
A visit to your Chiropractor early on is a very effective strategy for treating back pain should it arise.