Sciatica is a term that gets thrown around a lot and is really used as an overarching term to describe someone that has pain going down into the legs. The truth of the matter is that “sciatica” has many different causes, and not all people with sciatica have the same problem. First let us look at some of the more common reasons why people get pain referred down their leg.
- Lumbar disc herniations
- Impingement of the spinal nerves
- Pressure on the sciatic nerve by the muscles (usually the piriformis, aka Piriformis Syndrome).
In these above conditions people will most likely have pain going all the way down their leg past the knee and sometimes into the foot. However not all pain goes past the knee, and this is more commonly caused by other reasons such as:
- Facet joint pain
- Sacro-iliac joint pain
- Trigger point referrals from low back or gluteal musculature
In these above conditions the pain is not a result of the sciatic nerve being injured or irritated in any way, but the above anatomy can all send pain down into the leg. It is of course important to also realize that these two lists can happen in tandem, not just separate.
For example: It is common that Sacroiliac joint dysfunction will cause the gluteal muscles (butt muscles) to be over active and painful. One of these muscles is the piriformis which can than irritate the sciatic nerve.
Another example: The lumbar facets can begin to degenerate leading to a decrease in space for the nerve roots to exit the spine, compressing the nerve root sending pain down the leg.
The important thing to realize here is that not all sciatica is the same! And to be able to treat the sciatica we must first identify the cause or source of the pain. This is what a chiropractor would do in during the initial examination. Getting additional tests such as X-rays may also be requested to gain more information about what is causing the pain. After that the chiropractor will develop a treatment plan that will aim to correct the issue that is causing your pain. Just as not all sciatica is caused by one thing, the treatments for each cause can also be different as well!
Treatments that a chiropractor may use that are helpful for the above issues include:
- Joint manipulation/mobilization
- Soft tissue mobilization/muscle release
- Spinal decompression/traction
- Stretching or strengthening exercise
The above treatments may be used as a stand-alone treatment or most often in combination with each other. Again, it depends on the cause of the pain and what the chiropractor thinks will work best for your specific case.
This brings us back to the title question; can chiropractic chiropractic help with sciatica? And the answer is yes! A chiropractor shoulder be your first line of defence against sciatica. With chiropractic treatment most people respond very well and we expect to see good improvements.
If you are currently dealing with sciatica or pain in your legs, call our office at a 905-845-2291 or click here to request an appointment. We also direct bill your extended health insurance provider for your convenience.