Chiropractic treatment can ease the pain and tightness commonly associated with sciatica. The term sciatica refers to a severe pain in the leg, the cause of which is through irritation or pressure on the nerve root coming out from the spinal cord. The pain is felt along the course of the nerve, and typically is felt in the leg, buttock, calf and foot, the irritation or pressure on the nerve may cause other nerve symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or weakness. The onset of the pain may be immediate or gradual, movement of the leg often increases the pain.
Sciatica is caused by a process which irritates or places pressure on the nerve roots, the common causes of this are a bulging or degenerative disc (often called a slipped disc), piriformis syndrome, pregnancy, trauma, spondylolisthesis or narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis).
The sciatic nerve originates in the lower section of the spinal cord, its nerve roots are at the L4 L5 level (L means lumbar and the number indicates the vertebral level) This nerve then travels under the Piriformis muscle in the buttocks and then down the back of your thigh and into your foot.
The Sciatic nerve can become ‘trapped’ at any point along its course, reproducing sciatica symptoms below the level at which it has become trapped. The sitting posture can cause the piriformis muscle to become restrictive and tighten across the sciatic nerve as it passes underneath it, this creates the severe pain down the leg associated with sciatica and is known as piriformis syndrome.
Chiropractic treatment of back pain occurs following assessment to determine which levels of the spine are involved and the muscles affected. The joints in the spine may create a clicking sound when they are adjusted, this a normal sound and is created by the release of a tiny air bubble from within the joint.
Goals of Chiropractic Care The main goals of chiropractic care in the treatment of Sciatica include:
- Reduce pain
- Increase range of motion
- Release tension in the spinal facet joints
- Relax tight muscles
- Stimulate nerves
- Improve spinal function
Majority of cases of sciatica are of a benign, simple and treatable nature however if you are experiencing any of the following, we recommend you make an emergency appointment with your GP, or visit your local A&E
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