Posted by: Dr. Paul Zemella - Santa Barbara Chiropractor | August 21, 2011

How Chiropractic Services Helps Patients with Sciatica

A chiropractor will help you return to your normal activities quickly so that you can enjoy your daily life without pain. He or she will work to address the underlying mechanical (how the spine moves) or neurological (nerve-related) causes of your sciatica.

Many people suffer from Sciatic pain. What is Sciatica? Sciatica is pressure on the Sciatic nerve which is actually two nerves, the tibial and common peroneal nerve, bound together by common sheath of connective tissue. Both of these nerves form the Sciatic nerve, and they originate from L4-S3. Pressure or injury to the sciatic nerve results in sciatica. Sciatic pain can start in the buttock, and go all the way down the back and sides of the leg in to the sides of the foot.
Many cases of sciatica can be helped by chiropractic services. When a person has sciatica, the first step is identifying the cause of the sciatic pain pattern. Orthopedic exams, neurological testing, and other diagnostic testing such as MRI’s can help determine if the Sciatica is cause by herniated disks, or other reasons. Many times, Sciatica is caused by what has been coined Piriformis Syndrome. The Piriformis muscle is a small triangular muscle deep in the buttocks. The Sciatic nerve passes either through the Piriformis muscle, or underneath it depending on how a person is born. When the Piriformis muscle is irritated, it can contract in to a chronic state of spasm. This often times will press on the Sciatic nerve.

Through chiropractic services, we can diagnose the cause of the sciatic pain, and properly correct the Sciatica. If the Sciatic pain is caused by Piriformis syndrome, certain chiropractic treatments are utilized to relax the Piriformis muscle and lessen the nerve root irritation. In my experience as a NYC chiropractor since 1998, I’ve had many cases of chronic sciatica heal over a relatively short period of time once the piriformis muscle spasm had been addressed and corrected.

If the Piriformis muscle is not involved, and the cause is L4-S3, it is possible that a malposition of the vertebrae in the lower spine is causing impingement and nerve root irritation on the nerves that form the Sciatic Nerve. We call this a subluxation. A subluxation is the malposition of a vertebrae causing the nerve to be irritated. After determining through a chiropractic exam, and using diagnostics such as x-rays, we can find the possible subluxation that is contributing to the Sciatica, and restore proper alignment and biomechanics to that vertebrae and the adjacent one causing the irritation. Freeing up the subluxation many times helps the sciatica in relieving the pressure on the nerve, and healing the pain. Finally, a herniated disk may be involved in the sciatic pain. Incorporating chiropractic, physical therapy, and disk decompression is often very effective in restoring integrity to the disk, and allowing the body to heal.

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