Sciatica is a condition where the nerve exiting from the last vertebra in the spine (the sciatic nerve) is irritated or compressed. The main cause of sciatica is usually the L5/S1 disc that has slipped (prolapsed) and is pushing on the sciatic nerve.
- Pain in the back and/or going down the leg
- Pins & needles
- These symptoms can go down the leg and as far as the calf or sole of the foot.
- Symptoms can be made worse by bending, coughing, sneezing or sitting for long periods of time
Depending on the severity of the disc slip the pain, pins & needles etc. may be accompanied by muscle weakness of the lower limb. Disc slips normally happen on one side but occasionally you can get symptoms in both legs where the disc has bulged out the back instead of the side. Other conditions that can cause sciatica are: muscle spasms (piriformis syndrome), spinal canal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or a growth, injury or infection of the spine.
Chiropractic treatment for sciatica depends on what is causing it. For muscle spasms it may be something as simple as massage! For slipped discs there is a combination of specific spinal manipulation, traction (flexion-distraction) technique, orthopaedic blocking, soft tissue techniques and rehabilitative exercises/stretches available at our clinics.
Some tips to help prevent the occurrence of sciatica are:
- Maintain good posture
- Correct lifting techniques
- Regular exercise
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and twisting the back at the same time
- Be very careful when doing dead lifts, squats and sit-ups (or just avoid doing them all together)
- Don’t lift anything heavy within the 1st hour of waking up
If you experience sciatica with loss of bowel or bladder function and tingling between your legs then you should go straight to A&E as it may be Cauda Equina Syndrome.
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