How much is a good night worth to you? Every step feels like a knife stabbed in the back of your buttock and leg. The sharp, burning pain continues to streak down your buttock and leg as you cautiously limp around. Numbness and tingling take over as you take refuge on your favourite couch. Sciatica is one of the worst problems that you can have. Sciatica can temporary cripple your entire day when it strikes.
Sciatica refers to an irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve gives sensory feeling to the back of your legs. A common cause of sciatic pain is piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle is often tight, over-active and full of trigger points as it compensates for a weak gluteal medius muscle and chronic sacroiliac dysfunction. The piriformis muscle can irritate and put extra pressure on the sciatic nerve causing pain around the buttock and down the leg.
Trigger points to the low back and gluteal muscles can also cause similar symptoms of sciatica. Trigger points are pain sensitive spots found in tight, shortened, over-active muscles. When these pain sensitive spots are pressed, not only will you experience intense localized pain, but also pain to other areas. Trigger points in the low back muscles cause referral pain down to the buttock, hip and groin areas. Trigger points in the buttock cause shooting pain down the leg.
Other causes of crippling, sharp leg pain with numbness and tingling are spinal stenosis, severe spinal arthritis, disc bulge (usually at L5/S1), spinal cyst and other space occupying lesions.
Whether you have a true sciatica or not, it is important to find out the exact cause of your leg pain, numbness and tingling. Treatments will be determined by the source of your leg pain, numbness and tingling.
Stretching the shortened, over-active piriformis muscle and strengthening the weak gluteal medius can prevent flare up of sciatica if there is no spinal stenosis, disc bulge, spinal cyst or any space occupying lesions. Chiropractic adjustment to the sacroiliac joint and soft tissue treatments such as Active Release Technique and trigger point therapy to the involve muscles relief sciatic pain and improve soft tissue and joint functions.
If your sciatic pain is from spinal stenosis or a L5/S1 disc bulge, conservative treatments may also be successful. This complicated situation requires the addition of a coordinated, manual distraction. When this procedure is done correctly it can provide much needed pain relief. The breathing coordinated, manual distraction procedure is different from spinal decompression, traction table or inversion table.
There are a few lifestyle changes that you can do to reduce the risk of having sciatic pain. Sitting with a wallet in the back pocket and sitting cross-legged promote sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Try to avoid this.
Maintaining a level of fitness is also important in preventing sciatica. Sedentary lifestyle weakens the gluteal muscles which causes the piriformis muscle to be over-active, tight and shortened. Extended sitting not only increases intervertebral disc pressure, but it also makes the gluteal muscles weak. People with flabby and heavy bottom tend to experience more sciatic pain.
Whether you have true sciatica or not, it is important to know what and where the source of pain is. A thorough and caring health care provider saves you time, money and any unnecessary emotional pain.