Many times patients come in to our clinic and they ask me if they have sciatica. They also want to know if I can help it. In this Health News column I am going to talk about sciatica, and how Chiropractic can help it.
Sciatica is pain that travels down the leg. The sciatic nerve is a big nerve that starts in the center of the low back. It has two branches, one goes across the right side of the low back and down the back of the right leg. The other goes across the left side of the low back and down the back of the left leg. Each sciatic nerve branches at the knee, one branch goes down the front of the leg and the other branch keeps going down the back of the leg to the foot. The Sciatic nerve can get pinched by a misaligned vertebrae in the low back. The lower part of the spine consists of 5 lumbar vertebra, which sit on the sacrum. The sacrum is touched on each side by the ilia, or hip bones. The L5 vertebra, and the sacrum can become misaligned with trauma, heavy lifting, and stressors. Even things like bad posture and bad sleep habits can cause this misalignment. Often times a misaligned vertebra can cause a pinched nerve. Chiropractors call this misaligned vertebra pinching a nerve a subluxation. If the lumbar 5 vertebra or sacrum becomes misaligned and pinches the sciatic nerve, it can cause low back pain, and leg pain radiating down the sciatic nerve. This is called sciatica. This type of pain typically travels down the back of the leg. If lumbar 1 and lumbar 2 become misaligned and pinch nerves, this can cause pain radiating down the front of the leg. If lumbar 3 pinches a nerve, this can cause pain down the side of the leg. Lumbar 1,2,and 3 pinched nerves can also cause pain several inches above the low back or waist line. If the ilium becomes misaligned and pinches a nerve, it can cause groin pain, hip pain, and pain to the side of the low back.
How can a chiropractor help sciatica, back pain, hip pain and leg pain? When a new patient comes in to our office we do a thorough health history. We ask where the pain is, how long has it been there, how often does it hurt, how severe is it? We then do a gentle examination consisting of spinal palpation, and we often take an x-ray. If you do have a misaligned vertebra pinching a nerve, we do a gentle procedure called an adjustment. The adjustment realigns the misaligned vertebra and removes the nerve pressure. If your low back pain, leg pain, or sciatica is coming from a pinched nerve, a Chiropractor can remove the nerve pressure and get rid of the pain.
Dr. Chad Petterson
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