Do you experience leg pain that starts at your hip and shoots down to your foot? Does the pain make it nearly impossible to sit or stand? If so, you may have Sciatica and you may need to find a chiropractor in Houston, TX.
Sciatica pain can be debilitating, affecting your ability to work and perform daily activities. Fortunately, it is a manageable condition and most cases eventually resolve entirely. However, these symptoms can be very similar of other conditions. Successful treatment depends on determining whether your leg, hip, and back pain are from sciatica or something else.
What Is Sciatica Exactly?
Sciatica is not a disease but a symptom. It is the name given to the pain and discomfort that occurs due to the compression of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the widest and longest in the entire body. It is composed of smaller nerves that exit from the spine and then group together. The sciatic nerve then forms two branches that extend from the tailbone. Each of these branches runs down one of your legs and supplies nerve inputs to the muscles that control the movement of your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and buttocks.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
There is a wide range of sensations that are grouped together as sciatica pain. What they tend to have in common is that the sensations start in the hip and lower back and then radiate all the way down through one of the legs. Some people describe it as shooting pain, while others compare it to an electric shock, a burning sensation, numbness, or a tingling sensation.
The pain of sciatica may also be accompanied by weakness of the affected leg, making it difficult to walk. This occurs because the pressure on the sciatic nerve disrupts the neural impulses to the muscles of the leg.
What Causes Leg Pain From Sciatica?
Sciatica results when another structure in the body places pressure on the nerve. For example, women who are pregnant sometimes experience sciatica during the third trimester when the growth of the baby in the womb displaces other structures in the abdomen.
Sciatica pain can also result from the following:
• Piriformis Syndrome: Tightening or spasm of a specific muscle in the buttocks
• Spondylolisthesis: Displacement of one of the vertebrae
• Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal
However, the most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk. The disks are structures between your vertebrae to provide cushioning and shock absorption. They consist of a soft inner layer surrounded by a tougher outer layer. However, sometimes the outer layer wears down or becomes torn, allowing the inner layer to leak out. This can put pressure on the nerve roots and cause sciatica pain.
How Do You Know If You Have Sciatica?
Other conditions can cause symptoms like sciatica, such as neuropathy or vascular disease. If you experience pain that affects both legs at the same time, it may be something else. Sciatica usually only affects one leg at a time.
If you have symptoms only in the foot or lower leg, it is more likely the peroneal nerve or peripheral neuropathy than sciatica. Peroneal neuropathy is caused by an injury occurring below the knee, while peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the smaller nerves in the legs. Sciatica usually affects the entire lower extremity.
What Can You Do About Sciatic Leg Pain?
Most people recover completely from sciatica. While surgery may be performed to treat cases not improved by conservative measures, 80% to 90% of patients get better without any sort of operation.
A chiropractor can assess your pain, determine its cause, and make treatment recommendations. There are advantages to seeing a chiropractor first for lower back pain that radiates down your legs. Chiropractic care in Houston, TX typically consists of manual manipulation of the spine rather than surgery or medication. It is safe, with few side effects, and if the treatment is not effective at relieving your pain, the chiropractor can refer you to a doctor, physical therapist, or acupuncturist who can suggest other treatment options.
Another way that a chiropractor can help a case of sciatica is by teaching you stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as lifestyle modifications to help prevent your sciatic leg and back pain coming back. Find out more about sciatica treatment options from Dr. Brett Franson, Houston Chiropractor, at Franson Chiropractic.