Learn the facts about sciatic leg pain, and it may help you understand your pain. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the human body, emerging from the spine in the lower back and running through buttock region and all the way to the lower leg, where it functions to control the muscles in that region. The sciatic nerve also functions to provide sensation to the entire lower region of the body, including your thighs and legs and extending to the soles of your feet. If for any reason the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or inflamed, the pain that is caused is known as sciatica. Sciatica references the numerous symptoms that are directly associated with the irritation of the sciatic nerve, but does not indicate the source.
Much of the lower back and leg pain is symptomatic of sciatica, and is most common in individuals between the ages of 30-50. This is due more to the normal wear and tear associated with aging than any particular injury.
The most common symptom of sciatic nerve irritation is when the pain flows consistently along the pathway of the nerve, especially when the pain is persistent on only one side of the body. There are considerable ways in which this pain can be experienced. There can be a tingling sensation or aching and burning can be common as well. The type of pain is often associated with the exact location of the irritation. It is possible that a patient suffering from sciatica will feel like they are being poked with pins and needles in their lower extremities, accompanied by weakness in the leg or foot of the infected nerve.
As a general rule, sciatica develops slowly and progressively, rarely beginning with intense pain. The pain is normally exacerbated by long sitting sessions, bending, sneezing or coughing as well as sudden movements.
The diagnosis of sciatica begins with your physician. Your physician will be able to take into consideration your medical history as well as evaluate your descriptions of the pain and its manifestation, including when it began and the activities that triggered it or those that make it worse. It will also be necessary for you to undergo a complete neurological examination that will place an emphasis on your legs and spine. This includes the assessment of your sensory strength as you perform certain activities, allowing the doctor to assess your reflexes, muscle strength and any pain that may be caused by certain movements.
Diagnostic imaging devices, such as MRI’s, CT scans and x-rays will be used by your physician to aid in the diagnostic process. This will help your doctor see if there is something more serious at work.
In most cases, a conservative approach, such as chiropractic treatments, will be highly effective. Because sciatica can be caused by a number of issues, the treatments will vary based on the cause. This will depend heavily on your chiropractor. The term “conservative” in this context refers to treatments that are not invasive, which excludes surgical procedures and medication. A chiropractic approach would be focused on eliminating or minimizing the pain by addressing any spinal issues, restoring normal movement and function, subsequently reducing the irritation and inflammation.
Should you have any questions concerning sciatica, call the team at Pivotal Health Physical Medicine to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.