Sciatica is relatively common, and has been reported to occur in 15 to 40 percent of people during their lifetime, most commonly between the ages 30 and 50. Some causes include a herniated disk and degenerative arthritis of the spine. These are more common causes than actual injury.
What Causes Sciatica Pain?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. The nerve controls the muscles of the lower leg, providing sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet. Sciatica describes persistent pain felt along this nerve affecting the lower back, buttocks and leg, and depending on where the nerve is affected, the pain, usually restricted to one side of the body, may extend also to the foot or toes. Some may experience a mild tingling, a dull ache, or even a burning sensation. Sciatica, however, is actually a set of symptoms — not a diagnosis for what is irritating the nerve root and causing the pain. Pain from sciatica often begins slowly, gradually intensifying over time. In addition, the pain can worsen after prolonged sitting, sneezing, coughing, bending, or other sudden movements.
From recreational to the professional level, athletes can be prone to sciatica. For example, runners often develop this condition because of the impact from their sport. Running exerts a compressive force on the spine of up to four times the runner’s body weight. This can lead to degenerative changes in the spine such as spinal stenosis, degenerative joint disease, or a herniated disk. All of these conditions may cause nerve compression on a nerve root as it leaves the spine resulting in radiating pain down the lower limb, or sciatica.
While sciatica is not usually caused by pregnancy, those who experience this pain while pregnant may do so from various causes: including weight gain and increased fluid retention, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve where it passes through the pelvis; an expanding uterus, which presses on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of the spine; a change in the center of gravity because of a shift from a growing belly; finally, the shifting of the fetus in the third trimester can cause the baby’s head to press on the sciatic nerve.
Treatment Options for Sciatica
Non-surgical sciatica treatments encompass a broad range of options, with the goal of relieving pain caused by compressed nerve roots. One or some combination of the treatments in which we specialize at Montvale Health Sport & Spine may be employed. These include chiropractic, physical therapy, non-surgical spinal decompression. If, despite all measure of conservative care, your sciatica does not resolve, at Montvale Health we can discuss surgical options. This usually results if diagnostic tests, such at CT scan or MRI show disk or bone problems.
At Montvale Health Sport & Spine we use a team of experts for each patient to evaluate the cause of his/her sciatica, resulting in multi-faceted, comprehensive treatment.
Contact us at 201-391-8282 for an appointment and an evaluation or complete our online appointment request form.