What is Causing My Sciatic Pain?
Are you dealing with sciatic pain and cannot seem to figure out why it won’t go away? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, almost half of the population will experience sciatic pain at some point in their life. When it comes to diagnosing and treating sciatic pain, it is of utmost importance to identify the primary, or root cause, of the issue.
There are a number of neuromusculoskeletal conditions that can mimic sciatic pain, or sciatic pain can be a symptom of a larger, more complex condition. In this article, we will explore what sciatica is, how to determine if you have sciatica, and the best ways to treat sciatica for long-term relief.
Do I have sciatica?
Depending on the severity of nerve involvement, sciatica may present differently. Your sciatic nerve is made up as multiple nerve roots from your lumbar spine join together to form one large nerve, the sciatic nerve, that runs behind the pelvic, down the back of the leg and into your foot.
If you are experiencing pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness that runs from your low back down the back of your thigh into your lower leg and foot, the chances are you have sciatic nerve involvement. But I only feel pain in my lower back and sometimes in the top of my glutes, do I have sciatica?
While sciatica is a type of lumbar radiculopathy, it is not the only type. You may have compression of a lumbar nerve root at one or multiple levels, or you may have compression of the sciatic nerve, or a combination of both. In order to determine what is happening, a thorough examination by a medical professional, including imaging is the first step. Chiropractic BioPhysics®-certified doctors are specially trained to take advanced radiographic imaging that will help to determine the involvement of the neuromusculoskeletal system in your condition. If it is determined that further imaging or nerve conduction studies are needed, they will let you know.
What causes sciatica?
There can be direct causes of sciatic pain or a complex that contributes to the symptoms you experience. A lumbar disc herniation at one or multiple levels can be a direct cause of sciatic nerve compression and symptoms. Herniations can be caused by trauma or misalignment of a vertebra or a section of the vertebral column. Foraminal stenosis, or narrowing of the holes which the nerves exit the spine through, can be another cause of sciatic pain.
This can happen from prolonged spinal misalignment, postural deformities, and in rare cases genetic anomalies. Spinal subluxation, such as spondylolisthesis or spondylosis, can also cause direct pressure on the sciatic nerve roots. The one thing all of these causes have in common is they all put pressure or tension on the sciatic nerve. How you go about treating this condition is completely dependent on what the root cause is.
What can I do to help with sciatic pain?
Depending on the cause of your sciatic pain, you may be able to help your symptoms on your own. A good place to start is to find patterns. Do you notice your pain more during a certain time of day? Do certain positions make your pain better or worse?
If you are walking and moving around, does your pain lessen or does it make it worse? Once you find a pattern to your condition you can start to modify your activities and adjust your ergonomic setups to fit this pattern and lessen the amount of stress on your body and on the sciatic nerve. If you find there is not much of a pattern to your condition or you tried to modify your daily routine but the pain persists, it may be time to seek professional help.
What is the treatment for sciatic pain?
The treatment for sciatic pain ultimately depends on what the root cause of the problem is and WHO you decide to seek care from. If you start with your PCP, you may get prescribed pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or get referred to physical therapy for exercise based rehabilitation.
If you start with a Chiropractic BioPhysics®-certified chiropractor, you can expect a thorough evaluation to determine the cause and if conservative treatment is recommended or more invasive therapy, like surgery, may be needed. If you are a candidate for conservative care, you can expect a multifaceted approach to ridding your sciatic pain for good. This may include spinal manipulation, mirror-image adjusting and exercises, and specific spinal remodeling traction.
How long will it take for my pain to go away?
The length of your treatment depends on what the cause is, how progressive your condition is, and how well you do with sticking to the recommended treatment plan. We are all unique and will all heal differently. Some people will feel relief in the first few weeks of care and others can take a few months. The sooner we are able to calm down the nerves, the sooner we can get to work rehabbing the body to a strong, idyllic form. Your Chiropractic BioPhysics®-certified doctor will put together a personalized treatment plan based on your condition that will set you on the path to recovery.
Here at Fremont Spine + Wellness in Seattle, our doctors are Chiropractic BioPhysics®-certified and have helped hundreds of patients through nerve conditions, like sciatic pain. If you or someone you know is dealing with a condition like this, find a CBP-certified® doctor near you.