Get Rid Of Sciatica
Probably the most common problem that we treat at Elite Physical Therapy is back problems. In fact, over our lifetimes, approximately 80% of us will experience a back injury and back pain.
Of those back problems, many people come to us with sciatica. It is always interesting to hear everyone’s story how their sciatica developed. We have heard nearly every imaginable story and we are confident that yours is not that much different. While every case or situation is unique, there are some underlying elements that are always present.
WHAT IS SCIATICA?
Sciatic pain is simply leg pain caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve. The leg pain is usually described as radiating numbness and tingling that is uncomfortable and limits function. There are primarily four things that can create this. You may have one or more of the following conditions:
This is the most common cause of sciatic pain and is created when pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. Muscle imbalances pull the hip joints and pelvis out of place and this change of position typically shortens and tightens the piriformis muscle, which then places pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica can also be caused by pressure on the nerve due to a herniated or bulging disc. A disc herniation is when a disc displaces from between the vertebrae and this can either be caused by a traumatic event like a car accident or fall, or by months or years of uneven pressure due to muscle imbalances.
A muscle imbalance occurs when a muscle overpowers the opposite pulling muscle, you have a muscle imbalance. Think Tug-of-War.
When your muscles are out of balance, they pull your bones and joints out of their normal position, which places your muscles, bones and joints under constant stress and uneven pressure.
NERVE ROOT COMPRESSION
Nerve root compression occurs when the nerve is compressed as it exits the spine. This is often a result of degeneration (arthritis) and narrowing around the foramen (opening) of the side of the vertebrae, thereby placing pressure on the nerve. Depending on the level of degeneration of the vertebral foramen, will create the distance of numbness and tingling pain down the leg. Furthermore, abnormal motion typically occurs with this degeneration resulting in aggravating symptoms.
Degenerative disease (like arthritis) is most common in the lower spine. It typically occurs between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae where there is the most curvature in the spine. Muscle imbalances play a major role in causing uneven pressure wear and tear or cause increased curvature of the lower spine.
Sciatica can also be caused by pressure on the nerve due to a narrowing of the spinal canal. Possible factors such as aging, trauma (for example accidents), and heredity can lead to spinal stenosis.
If you have spinal stenosis it is imperative that you maintain as close to normal curvature in the spine. The more that your spine is pulled out of place the tighter the space gets in the spinal canal. It is also important to avoid extension-based activities that further close off the spine and increase nerve pressure and pain.
Sciatica can be a debilitating painful condition that greatly limits everyday function, and usually does not resolve on its own. Left untreated too long, it may result in nerve damage. Upon consulting with an Elite Physical Therapist, a thorough evaluation is performed to determine the cause of the sciatica, so that it may be properly resolved with an individualized treatment program tailored to meet your specific needs. For more information about how an Elite Physical Therapist can help you or someone that you know with sciatica, call (401) 737-4581 or visit www.elitephysicaltherapy.com today.