Shooting pain down the leg? Here's 4 things it can be and what to do about it.
The Sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It extends from the Lumbar and Sacral plexus, a bundle of nerves that extend from the spinal cord and merge into one large nerve - the Sciatic. The Sciatic develops from Lumber vertebrae 4 and 5, Sacral vertebrae 1 - 3. The Sciatic nerve passes through several muscles in the buttocks, primarily Piriformis and Quadratus Femoris, two muscles that are responsible for turning the leg out.
What the Experts Say
According to the National Institute of Health "In general an estimated 5%-10% of patients with low back pain have sciatica, whereas the reported lifetime prevalence of low back pain ranges from 49% to 70%. The annual prevalence of disc related sciatica in the general population is estimated at 2.2%"
Personal factors included:
- Age (45-65)
- Mental Stress
Other Occupational factors listed includes:
- Strenuous physical activity
- Driving or other sources that cause body vibration
The "How," the "When," and the "Why?!"
Sciatic nerve pain can arise from many conditions of the Spine, Sacroiliac Joint or SI Joint (the joint for sacrum and hip bone), or even the muscles in the buttocks and may include:
- Spinal Disc Injries
- Spinal Degeneration
- Short or 'tight' Piriformis, Quadratus Femoris, or both
- Prolonged sitting or driving
Pirifomis Syndrome is a condition that is caused by spasm of the Piriformis muscle in the buttocks, which compresses and irritates the Sciatic nerve. Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica are very similar and may include:
- Burning in the Buttock, Hip, or Thigh
- Sharp pain in the Buttock or down the leg
- Nerve pain that 'shoots' down the leg into the knee or calf
- Numbness in the leg or foot
- Muscle weakness in the leg or foot
What are the Options
If you're currently experiencing sciatic pain, or your experiencing sciatic pain due to a known spinal condition or injury, there are things you can do!
- MyoFascial Release and Massage Therapy
MyoFascial Release may help with sciatic pain by releasing certain muscles that are too short or "tight" and may be compressing or irritating the sciatic nerve through the buttocks. Massage Therapy can also use multiple techniques to relax the muscles in the area where the nerve passes.
- Stretching and Exercise
Performing regular stretching activities can help 'lengthen' muscles that are too short, allowing the sciatic freedom between some muscles. Strengthening exercises, when performed with stretching, can strengthen weak muscles which may help prevent muscles becoming tight in the first place.
- Surgical Options
Depending on the severity of the condtition, which caused Sciatica, some surgical treatments are available for the treatment of Sciatica. However, it is always best to seek surgery as the last resort. Lets look at some numbers.
A case study publication in NIH titled Estimates of success in patients with sciatica due to lumbar disc herniation depend upon outcome measure reads:
"In conclusion, using the cut-off scores which best discriminated the patients with and without success at 1 year, the success rates varied from 49 to 58% depending on the measure used."
According to a publication titled Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations.,
"Active manipulations reduced the number of days patients experienced moderate or severe back pain and other sciatica symptoms, and also caused no reported adverse effects."
Furthermore, the European Spine Journal reported that "chiropractic adjustments resulted in a 72 percent success rate in treating sciatica-related symptoms..."
Chiropractic Care for Sciatica
A Chiropractor can identify the root cause of the sciatic pain. Once identified, a Chiropractor uses many techniques to help correct the underlying condition.
"Sixty percent of people with sciatica who didn't get relief from other therapies and then tried spinal manipulation experienced the same degree of pain relief as patients who eventually had surgery, found a 2010 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics."
Chiropractor's may also use methods such as Chiropractic Manipulation, Myofascial Release, Stretching, Exercise, and other techniques to achieve success with finding relief from these symptoms.
If you're struggling with symptoms of Sciatic pain, there are options available. At Forever Well Chiropractic, Dr. Haywood is experienced in these conditions and is expertly trained in methods that are proven effective to not only alleviate symptoms but also help correct the issue at the root.