At my San Diego Chiropractic office we provide treatment for many patients who complain of lower back pain with leg pain. The term for this leg pain is sciatica and it implies that the leg pain is due to a compression of the sciatic nerve. There are many sciatica causes that have be identified prior to treatment.
There are Many Sciatica Causes
More often than not, sciatica causes are due to compression of the sciatic nerve where it exits the spine. The typical scenario is that one of the five joints in the lower part of the spine will become misaligned, irritated and inflamed, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve and causing leg pain.
Because so many cases of sciatic pain are caused by spinal misalignments, in many cases this condition is effectively treated with chiropractic care. That being said, it is still important to discover the specific sciatica causes before care can begin.
Chiropractic treatment for sciatica can involve spinal adjustments, hot packs, ice packs, electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, traction and specific stretches / exercises. Typically, chiropractic treatment for this condition requires a series of treatments rather than a single visit.
Although many cases of sciatica are due to simple spinal misalignments, there are other sciatica causes that must be taken into consideration. Some of the other leading causes of sciatic pain are as follows.
1) Bulging Disc: A bulging disc is also known as a slipped disc. This means the gel-like center of the disc bulges up against the nerve root. Disc bulges can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Typically, disc bulges generate pain with sitting, bending and twisting motions. This is one of the more common sciatica causes.
2) Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is a type of nerve compression that most often affects older people. Leg pain similar to sciatica can occur as a result of lumbar spinal stenosis. The pain is usually brought on by activities such as standing or walking and relieved by sitting down.
3) Spondylolisthesis: Spondylolisthesis is a disorder that is characterized by one vertebra slipping forward over the vertebra below it. When the vertebra slips and becomes displaced, spinal nerve root compression occurs and often causes sciatic leg pain. Spondylolisthesis has many possible origins including developmental (found at birth, develops during childhood) or acquired as a result of degeneration, trauma or physical stress.
4) Trauma: Sciatica can result from nerve compression caused by external forces from such things as motor vehicle accidents, falls, work injuries and sports injuries.
5) Piriformis Syndrome: Piriformis syndrome is another of the common sciatica causes. It derives its name from the piriformis muscle and the pain that arises when the muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle and develops pain when muscle spasms develop compressing the sciatic nerve. It may be difficult to diagnose and treat due to the lack of x-ray or MRI findings.
6) Spinal Tumors: Tumors are abnormal growths that are either benign or cancerous. Fortunately, spinal tumors are rare on the list of potential sciatica causes. When a tumor develops in the lower back, there is a possibility for sciatica to develop as a result of nerve compression.