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Will Chiropractic Help Sciatica?

Lots of people come to see us with what they call “sciatica”. Often the symptoms they’re experiencing aren’t true sciatica, so today we’re going to delve into what sciatica truly is, where the pain is coming from and where you would feel it in your body along with how chiropractic can help.




 

First of all, sciatica is not a diagnosis, it’s a symptom of an underlying issue. True sciatica comes from compression of the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed with roots that leave the spinal canal and go down into the leg from L4 in the lower lumbar spine all the way down to S3 in the sacrum. This compression can be caused by disc herniations and bulges, bony growth from arthritis or other causes. Sciatica can create pain, tingling, numbness and even weakness of the low back, glutes, back of the leg and into the calf or foot. In these cases the pain is usually one-sided, and most often crosses the knee joint. Because disc herniations and bulges are both self-limiting and respond very well to chiropractic care, true sciatica from a disc issue can be effectively managed in a chiropractic practice. If the compression is coming from bone spurs or narrowing of the nerve outlets from the spine, these cases are better co-managed with medical and potentially surgical care.

 

Now for those of you who are worried you have sciatica, but your symptoms don’t quite match the description above, you may have a collection of pain and symptoms that are even more amenable to chiropractic care. When we examine patients in our office, we explore many orthopedic, neurological and muscle tests to narrow down the specific area you may be experiencing nerve irritation. The most common one that we see is called Sacro-iliac Joint Syndrome. It is a result of a poorly moving Sacro-iliac joint, inflammation and muscle tension that causes irritation to your sciatic nerve. It can feel almost identical to sciatica, but it rarely travels beyond the knee. Unlike sciatica, that is most often on one side, SI joint syndrome can fluctuate from side to side and rarely creates true weakness of the leg (although it may buckle from pain on occasion).

 




This syndrome that is often confused with sciatica, is highly responsive to chiropractic. Along with adjustments, your chiropractor may recommend core stability exercises, lower limb stretching and soft tissue therapy. The best way to differentiate between true sciatica or SI joint syndrome or any other nerve irritation issues is with a physical exam. If you think these symptoms sound like you or someone you love, give us a call!

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