William S. Thatcher, DC
Chiropractor located in Baldwin, NY
Sciatica Q & A
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is an aggravation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, aside from the spinal cord. As the sciatic nerve leaves the spine, it splits into two large nerves. The sciatic offshoots travel down each leg and travel down the leg into the foot. Sciatica can be a result of an irritation to the nerve as it travels through the lumbar spine and sacrum. The nerve can also become irritated if it is pinched between two muscles or a bone and muscle. Either way, the nerve is compressed and its blood supply diminishes. The lack of blood flow to the nerve can cause nerve pain, numbness and tingling along the length of the entire nerve.
Can Sciatica be Treated Without Surgery?
Sciatica can be treated with surgery if the damage is severe. If the condition is addressed in its earliest stages, chiropractic care and physical therapy can sufficiently address many of the symptoms. When a person receives an adjustment, the bones and muscles are returned to their natural position, relieving any stress and inflammation that has been placed on the nerve. Physical therapy and stretching exercises can then be used to strengthen the muscles, helping them to remain in their proper position and restoring blood flow to the sciatic nerve along its entire length. This will reduce the severity of the symptoms and allow the nerve time to heal.
What are the Symptoms Associated With Sciatica?
Sciatica is characterized by numerous symptoms, the most common being numbness and tingling along the entire length of the nerve. In the beginning, the inflammation and discomfort associated with the condition will be rather mild. As time passes and the condition progressively worsens, the numbness and tingling will increase. A dull ache may begin to radiate outward from where the nerve is actually being irritated. As with the numbness and tingling, the pain will gradually worsen. A feeling resembling "pins and needles" may also begin to appear. The longer the nerve is irritated, the more severe the symptoms will become until they are constant and unrelenting. Early treatment will slow the progression of the damage and reduce the symptoms.