This is one of the most common causes of pain in the low back, buttocks with symptoms that travel down the leg. It is commonly self-diagnosed, but immediate care is rarely sought making it one of the more common and frequently untreated conditions in our country.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is pain, weakness, numbness that descends from the low back, buttock and radiates in a pattern down the sciatic nerve. Symptoms generally are on one side of the body and can be from several causes. The medical diagnosis of true Sciatica is Lumbar Radiculopathy. Many soft tissue injuries will mimic radiculopathy and may be diagnosed with sciatica without a true lumbar issue.
What causes Sciatica?
Lumbar disc disease which is pressure or stimulus on the nerve causing radiation, caused by disc collapse, herniation or spinal stenosis. Muscular cause of sciatica is caused by tightness in the piriformis muscle(buttock), and can be a combination of piriformis with gluteus Medius, tensor fascia lata and quadratus lumborum. Swelling in the lumbar disc area or surrounding muscles can also lead to a diagnosis of sciatica trauma or repetitive strain. The most common reasons for getting sciatica are the following:
- During Pregnancy
- Long hours working in a seated position
- Jobs that have squatting regularly
- CrossFit athletes, Commuters in a sedan style vehicle (angle of the hip puts them at risk)
- Long or new workouts
How is sciatica diagnosed?
It is diagnosed by MRI and orthopedic testing that your Orthopedist or Chiropractor will do. Symptoms typically include the following:
- Low back pain
- Hip pain
- Pain in the buttock and into the leg
- Burning or tingling down the leg
- Shooting pain in the buttock or leg
- Aching pain in the buttock (early stages)
- Pain is worse with sitting
- Pain is better with standing and walking around
How is sciatica Treated?
The most common treatment in the USA for sciatica is massage to the piriformis muscle and the low back muscle complex. The second most common treatment and highly recommended to prevent re-occurrence is chiropractic care along with muscle therapy. The chiropractic treatment insures that there is alignment in the lumbar spine, pelvis and sacrum which can be common triggers to tightening up of the muscles responsible for the nerve pain in the buttock and low back. However, alignment alone is not enough to treat this condition and muscle work performed by your chiropractor or a trained massage therapist is required to get rid of symptoms and pain.
What happens if I think I have sciatica?
Begin by stretching or rolling out the piriformis; follow this up with ice to the area. If it is only aching and causing a mild limp and hasn’t progressed into radiating pain yet and rolling hasn’t taken care of the problem, contact your chiropractor or massage therapist. More serious cases may take injections or acupuncture in conjunction with the manual therapies.
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