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CONDITION OF THE MONTH
NOVEMBER 2007: SCIATICA
 
Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve is inflamed, irritated, or compressed causing pain in the low back, buttocks, thighs legs an/or feet. Sciatica can be described in many ways, such as a tingling, burning, shooting, stabbing, aching or numbing pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve forms in the buttocks region and continues down the back of the thigh, to the knee, through the leg into the foot. Several conditions may cause sciatic nerve pain. The nerve can become irritated from a misaligned lumbar spine or sacroiliac joint, a disc herniation or an adhesion with a muscle or ligament.

A lumbar spinal joint consists of two vertebrae with a disc in between. On each side of the joint there are holes called foramina for the spinal nerves to exit. A misaligned joint is a condition in which the joint is slightly out of its normal position. This can decrease the amount of space for the nerve to exit causing the bones to press on the nerve.  Many people call this a "pinched nerve."

An intervertebral disc acts as a shock absorber and a cushion for the spine. A disc can wear down with repeated stress or trauma, causing the outer layer to weaken allowing the inner layer to protrude or bulge. As more stress occurs, the disc can herniated and irritate and compress the nearby nerves. If a sudden trauma happens, the herniated disc can rupture causing extreme pain.

A nerve usually has room to stretch according to the body's movement. When a muscle or ligament is strained or sprained it can shorten and develop adhesions. This means the muscle or ligament can adhere to the nearby nerve and cause it to be irritated or compressed. Some common sites for symptoms to occur with the sciatic nerve are certain buttocks and thigh muscles and ligaments.

A chiropractic examination with certain orthopedic and neurological tests can help determine which of the above is causing the sciatica. If it is a misalignment or joint restriction, we would adjust or manipulate that particular joint. This allows the joint to move properly and lessens the spinal nerve irritation. For certain patients we use an instrument called an "Activator" instead of our hands. For more information visit their website at www.activator.com.

If a patient has a disc bulge or herniation, we use special tables to apply a technique called flexion-distraction. It allows us to decompress or open up the disc space. This method of adjustment increases the disc height, increases the space for the nerve to exit and decreases the disc pressure. After a course of treatment the pressure on the sciatic nerve can be resolved or reduced, helping to alleviate the pain. Fore more information visit their Web site at www.coxtechnic.com.

If the sciatic nerve pain is caused by muscle or ligament adhesions we use a form of myofascial release called Active Release Technique (ART®). It's a hands-on technique. We find the adhesion site and use a certain method to separate the tissue that's sticking to the nerve. It's called Active Release Technique (ART®) because the muscle is in action during the treatment. We have found it to be a very effective treatment in relieving sciatic nerve pain caused from muscular or ligament adhesions. For more information visit their Web site at www.activerelease.com.

 

 
 
 
 
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