Sciatica - Gallatin Valley Chiropractic of Bozeman
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve, which is made up of multiple nerve roots bundling together from your low back, is the longest and largest nerve in the body. It begins at your pelvis, and passes through your hip region and buttocks, before continuing down the leg on both sides. As it moves down each leg, the sciatic nerve branches out into smaller nerves. In addition to providing feeling to both your thighs, legs, ankles and feet, the smaller branches of the sciatic nerve control many of the muscles that make up the lower legs.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica, is a term that describes pain that radiates along the course of this nerve, and it is a condition often diagnosed and treated by chiropractors. These symptoms may be a sign that you have another problem, where pressure is being put on a nerve in your low back. A common and severe cause of nerve compression in the lower back is a herniated or bulging lumbar disc. The nerves in the lumbar spine can be compressed in other ways such as by bone spurs, narrowing of the spinal canal and arthritic conditions.
Another cause of sciatica is a condition called Piriformis Syndrome. In most people, the sciatic nerve passes directly under the piriformis muscle in your pelvis; for a few patients (about one in ten), the sciatic nerve passes directly through the muscle belly of the piriformis. When this muscle tightens up, or becomes spasmed due to injury or prolonged sitting, it can put direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. Pain down the leg can also be due to carrying a wallet in the back pocket, and often sit on it while driving, creating direct pressure on the nerve, from outside the body.
How Do I Know if I Have Sciatica?
In the majority of cases, pain that begins in your lower back and travels to your buttock and down through the back of the leg. Other symptoms that you may notice in addition to your sciatic pain are tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the leg that is affected. The severity of the pain can vary from a mild ache to a burning, sharp sensation or even severe debilitating pain. When the disc is involved, sciatic pain typically intensifies when abdominal pressure is increased, as in coughing, sitting on the toilet, or sneezing.
How is Sciatica Treated?
Sciatic pain treatment can be simple and straightforward: a combination of stretches for the piriformis muscle and adjustments by a chiropractor can often be all that is needed. Great results can be achieved through natural and conservative methods by treatment from a chiropractor. More involved treatment is necessary for causes of sciatica that involves the disc, particularly if it is bulged or herniated. Though more frequent and more intentional, the treatment is typically straightforward as well. This plan usually includes a combination of traction, exercises custom fit to the patient and their particular pain, and chiropractic adjustments. At Gallatin Valley Chiropractic the doctors take time with a thorough exam to determine the cause of sciatica symptoms to provide appropriate care and recommendations for you.
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