This is a term used to define pain or discomfort in to the gluteal and or legs. This term is used loosely like when we use the word “headache”. We all know there are many reasons for headaches; Sinus, vision, migraine neck pain and TMJ dysfunction are all causes of headaches. So, we use the term “sciatica” in the same manner. Sciatica can be in both or only one leg at a time. Sciatica (leg/gluteal pain) is usually created by any of the following:
1. Disc Herniation, bulges and prolapse.
2. Piriformis muscle spasm (piriformis syndrome).
3. Central canal or foraminal stenosis (tightening of the spinal canal).
4. Lumbar disc degeneration.
5. Facet syndrome.
6. Lumbar subluxation.
Note: It’s often that sciatica will also be accompanied by lumbar paraspinals spasms which can make the condition worse. It’s also noteworthy that you can have some of these conditions without any back pain.
How is it diagnosed? It’s important to start with a history of the condition and If you have had previous bouts of sciatica and what caused it. X-rays can also be helpful to see what you spine looks like. Do you have degeneration or can a small spinal canal be seen? Next you would need an examination to help delineate what structures that may be creating the pain. Is the sciatica coming from the nerve roots next to your spine or are the symptoms coming from the lower sciatic nerve?
A competent chiropractor, neurologist or spinal orthopedist are the specialist you should seek this information from. Lastly, an MRI would be helpful to better view the intervertebral discs (this is usually done at a last resort).
What can you do to relieve sciatica? It’s paramount that you find the cause before you can effectively treat it. As you have read, there are many possible causes which each require different approaches to treatment. However, you can help relive the “symptoms” of sciatica at home by eliminating the things that aggravate it. Usually long periods of sitting (computer chairs, cars) will aggravate the condition so you will want to stay flat on a supportive surface and reduce sitting. Lifting, bending and twisting are also aggravators of sciatica. Using moist hot packs, spa and stretching protocols can be effective is decreasing the pain. There are certain medications that can help but you should understand that this is usually numbing the pain rather than eliminating the cause.
Is exercise helpful? Exercise most often will aggravate sciatica but again, it depends on what is actually creating the sciatica. A rule of thumb is that anything that makes is worse, is not recommended. Exercise protocols are usually given once the condition is diagnosed, treated and eliminated. We need to understand that there is usually a weakness or overuse that created the problem in the first place so exercise protocols are important when you want to keep the condition from returning.
Closing: The big problem is when you are on a devoted exercise routine and you are scared to stop exercising for fear of loosing what you have gained. All I can say is that If the condition hasn’t gone away on its own, and exercise makes it worse, you could be decreasing the possibility or getting rid of the cause (especially if a lumbar disc is involved). This type of injury puts you at risk of never being able to exercise at the previous intensity.
I treat cases that involve sciatica on athletes and on a daily basis with many different protocols. The success rate depends on how quickly the patient gets in my clinic. After treatment many of them wished they had got in for treatment earlier so they could have resumed their workouts earlier. If I can be of any help, please feel free to schedule a consultation with me and I will do whatever I can to help. If I can’t help, I will gladly help you find someone who can.
David A. Sommer, DC
Sommer Sports Chiropractic
Sports Concussion Clinic
SCIATICA RELIEF by Cheryl Smith
Sciatica? What is it?
It’s that deep burning pain in your lower lumbar area and glute and sometime down your leg. You may even feel pain in your heel as that is a reflexology point for sciatica in the foot. The leg may become heavy and weak as the irritation occurs. I have found after 20 years in the bodywork field sciatica is one of the top three complaints.
From a massage therapist’s perspective it’s about RELIEF. With MASSAGE THERAPY for the body and AROMATHERAPY for the mind which equals RELIEF. Long strokes to stretch and relax the muscles.
Depending on the persons comfort level deep muscle work can be beneficial in some cases. It’s important that you have good communication with your therapist. If it’s too deep, simply tell your therapist. Your bodies pressure level may vary as your sciatica is healing. I have also many clients (including myself when I was pregnant) get even more relief with a cooling topical (such as SOMBRA or BIO-FREEZE) with an ice pack over it for 20 minutes. I have used this method for my own joint health. It’s great after a massage!
AROMATHERAPY when inhaled through your nose during your massage will help relax the mind. A wonderful compliment to bodywork. An aromatherapy bath soak will ease the days stress and therefore help the body relax.
Relaxing essential oils to ease the days stress are some in the floral family such as the lavenders and chamomiles. Eucalyptus is good for muscle soreness. But remember you must mix a carrier oil with chamomile and eucalyptus (such as olive oil from your kitchen).
You can use an ounce of carrier oil with 5 drops of chamomile or 3 drops of eucalyptus. Lavender needs no carrier oil so just put in 7 drops of lavender right into the bath. Steep your body and RELAX for 20 minutes. Taking deep inhalations of the aromatic healing steam.
Exercise is important also. Although sciatica is irritated by a lot of sitting and standing, RELIEF can be encouraged with walking and stretching.
But remember if this problem persists you may need to call your chiropractor or medical doctor. Whatever your preference is.
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