Sciatica means pain down the leg. The Sciatic Nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It can be as large as the diameter of a quarter at it’s largest point in some people. It is formed from branches of nerve roots as they exit the lumbar spine (low back). The sciatic nerve then travels down through a muscle in the buttocks called the Piriformis Muscle, then all the way down the back of the leg to the feet.
All nerves are very delicate and sensitive to pressure. In fact, all it takes is the weight of a pencil erasure on a nerve to alter it’s signal by up to 60% and cause pain and dysfunction. Because the bones of the spine are movable, and the nerve roots exit from in between them, the nerve roots may be pinched or irritated from bulging discs or herniated discs that encroach on the environment of the nerve as it passes through the nerve channel in between the vertebrae. This is called a pinched nerve.
There are many terms used to describe the cause of a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine from a herniated disc. The most common terms are ruptured disc, torn disc, slipped disc, herniated disk, bulging disk, prolapsed disc, etc.
The bottom line is that the spinal disc is injured and the jelly like center (nucleus) of the disc is bulging out or has broke free of the disc and is pinching the lumbar nerve root.
Bulging discs and herniated discs are the primary cause of sciatica. The sciatic nerve can also be pinched as it passes through the piriformis muscle, if the muscle is in spasm…which is common with long haul truck drivers or men that wear thick wallets while they sit. This is called Piriformis Syndrome.
Sciatica can be mild, or it can be severe and debilitating. It can be acute or chronic (lasts for more than 3 months). Sciatica can also be used to describe ongoing abnormal sensations in the legs and throbbing.
So what’s the best treatment for sciatica from a pinched nerve?
The medical approach will usually be muscle relaxers, cortisone injections, pain pills, and maybe physical therapy. Depending on the age of the patient and over-all condition of the spine, surgical fusion may be recommended, or a micro-surgery like a discectomy (remove herniated disc fragments off nerve).
A chiropractor will want to adjust the spine into a more normal alignment with the idea that the disc will naturally want to be where it is supposed to be…which is not on the sciatic nerve or nerve roots. Chiropractors will often use soft tissue therapies such as massage and Active Release Technique as well as exercises and laser therapy.
Acupuncture can also help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with disc bulges, disc herniations, and piriformis syndrome.
Nonsurgical spinal decompression should also be considered as a treatment for sciatica due to a pinched nerve. Spinal disc decompression to the lumbar spine is done on a spinal decompression machine such as the DRX9000. The DRX9000 lumbar decompression system is designed and built to treat herniated and bulging discs naturally.
New York City spinal decompression doctor Steven Shoshany uses spinal decompression in conjunction with physical therapy, acupuncture, and physical medicine to achieve favorable outcomes for severe, chronic low back pain and sciatica.
Spinal decompression is a tool that can be combined with many other therapies and modalities to treat sciatica and low back pain.
If you would like me to help you find a spinal decompression doctor…simply send an email to [email protected] You can also check our list of recommended chiropractors. Most of them offer spinal decompression services.
To schedule an appointment at our San Francisco Spinal Decompression Center call 415-392-2225 and ask for a complimentary consultation.