The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, and in fact, is actually two separate nerves that travel together for part of its length. The sciatic nerve originates in the pelvic area and then travels through the buttocks and down the back of both legs. As it travels down the body, it gives off many branches that control the movement of muscles and gives feeling to the lower body. A person is said to have, "Sciatica" when this nerve is irritated for any reason. Shooting pain down the buttocks and back of the leg is the hallmark of sciatica.
The sciatic nerve can be irritated by several things. First, as it passes through the buttocks, it travels underneath a muscle called the piriformis. If the piriformis muscle becomes tight or spasmed, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain that radiates down the leg. Because the sciatic nerve begins at the spine in the low back, problems such as a bulging or herniated disc can put pressure on the nerve here as well. Finally, people who wear a wallet in their back pocket will be more likely to get sciatica. When you sit on the wallet, it puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, irritating both the nerve and the piriformis muscle, which can lead to the shooting pain of sciatica.
Treatment of sciatica will be tailored to each patient. After a thorough history and examination, Dr. Flaskey will be able to determine whether or not you have sciatitca and where it is coming from. If the piriformis is the culprit, he will assess the pelvic bones for misalignment. The piriformis attaches to the pelvis, and if the pelvis is misaligned, the piriformis is more likely to be tight. Proper adjustments to the pelvis often relieve this problem. In addition to the adjustments, stretches, massage and ultrasound therapy directly to the muscle will likely relax the muscle and reduce the pressure on the nerve.
Sciatica caused from low back problems usually takes a little more effort to treat, but regular chiropractic adjustments are extremely beneficial when coupled with an at-home exercise program and specific stretches.
If you carry a wallet, either begin to wear it in your front pocket, or we can order you a chiropractic-friendly wallet for use in the back pocket. Call us today to see if we can help.