Happy Hanukkah! From the Pittsburgh North Hills chiropractic office of Dr. James J Schofield!
Happy Thanksgiving! From the Pittsburgh North Hills chiropractic office of Dr. James J Schofield!
Recently, I had a patient named Kelsey, who came to me with lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain radiating into both legs. Since I have been in chiropractic practice for 37 years I was interested to see if I could help her. This article will describe the condition called sciatica and what can be done to bring sciatic nerve pain relief.
Many people suffer from lower back pain. Back discomfort, in itself, can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes, in addition to pain in the back, an additional insult occurs when pain starts radiating from the back down the leg. At its worse, it is one of the most painfully excruciating conditions one can experience.
Let’s delve into exactly what sciatica entails. We all know that nerves exit openings between the spinal bones. In the lowest part of the spine there are five nerves on each side which combine, in the area of the buttocks, into one large nerve. This is called the sciatic nerve. It is about the size of a finger and is the largest nerve in the body. It gives branches to other areas as it descends down the leg.
There are also intravertebral discs which are located between spinal bones. Problems occur when a disc bulges, protrudes or herniates backward and impinges on the sciatic nerve. This can also be called a “pinched nerve.”
When the sciatic nerve is pinched and becomes a painful condition we call it sciatic nerve pain, sciatic leg pain or just, sciatica.
Sciatica generally occurs in only one leg or the other. It’s more uncommon to see it in both legs.
As a chiropractor, I have seen many cases of patients suffering from sciatic nerve pain. To diagnose this condition, I first talk with them about the condition: where the pain is located, what caused the onset of the pain and when is it better or worse. Next, I’ll perform what are called orthopedic tests to confirm sciatica. Neurologic tests can help determine the severity of the condition. Imaging such as x-rays and MRIs may be of additional help.
To treat sciatica and bring pain relief, we employ a variety of therapies. Traction is especially helpful to reduce the disc bulge. Gentle, safe chiropractic spinal adjustments help to realign vertebrae and restore motion to joints that may be locked and not moving properly. Cold packs and electrical muscle stimulation can help to reduce inflammation and relax muscles in spasm. Exercises and lifestyle changes and modifications are important to follow.
While my patient Kelsey’s condition was slightly unusual because it was affecting both legs, I’m happy to report her treatment brought about complete pain relief of her lower back and sciatic nerve pain discomfort.
In my 37 years of chiropractic practice, I’ve heard a lot of interesting comments. Recently, my patient, Laura, who was seven months pregnant said: “I wish I had known how good chiropractic care makes me feel when I was pregnant with my first three kids.”
Let me give an explanation about that statement. Laura started coming to my office for periodic chiropractic treatment a couple months after she found out she was pregnant with her fourth child. She had been talking with a friend of hers and lamenting that, although she was happy that she was going to have another child, she dreaded the discomfort that she felt she was destined to experience. She had difficult labors with her earlier pregnancies. Her lower back had been extremely sore and her births were long and difficult. Although she had three children, the second two had been twins and that pregnancy and delivery was especially tough on her.
Fortunately, her friend had been a patient of mine and received chiropractic care through the duration of her two pregnancies and experienced very little back discomfort and had exceptionally easy, natural deliveries. This patient told Laura how well things had gone with her chiropractic care and it prompted Laura to call my office for an evaluation and to receive treatment.
To some it might come as a surprise that chiropractors treat women who are pregnant. However, chiropractors have been of help to expecting mothers for over 100 years. When one thinks about it, it makes perfect sense.
Let’s look at some basic human anatomy. Our pelvis is made of three separate bones. The two outer wing bones are called the iliac bones. The central tail bone is called the sacrum. The joints between the sacrum and the two bones are called the sacroiliac joints (SI joints). The sacroiliac joints are gliding joints. When we walk the SI joints glide slightly back-and-forth.
When a woman is pregnant most of the weight bearing of the growing child is borne by the bones of the pelvis. As she carries more and more weight, it normally should not be a problem. However, if the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis are misaligned, locked up and not moving properly it creates discomfort of the lower back.
Chiropractic care for pregnant women simply aims to keep the pelvis and its joints in good alignment and moving freely without restraint.
That’s what Laura was experiencing with chiropractic care of her pregnancy and what she did not experience with her previous pregnancies.
Some chiropractors have had extra training in the treatment of pregnant women. There is a method called the Webster Technique that chiropractors can utilize that is especially helpful when treating expecting mothers. The Webster Technique is even recommended by many obstetricians whose pregnant patients are experiencing back problems.
I fully expect Laura’s last two months of pregnancy to be very comfortable and my experience tells me that her natural delivery will be relatively easy and quick.
Many people suffer with chronic lower back pain. A significant number will also have problems with the lower extremity joints of the feet, knees and hips. Fortunately, there is a safe, gentle form of treatment to help bring pain relief of back and leg pain. This article will discuss back pain and its association with problems of the joints of the leg.
Discomfort of the back affects many people. A significant amount those with back maladies will develop chronic pain. This type of pain can be intermittent or constant. When symptomatic, back discomfort may cause a person to limp and walk with an impaired gait.
If a person walks with a limp and an impaired gait, they are putting extra stress on the hip joints, the joints of the knees and the many joints of the feet. When this excess stress occurs for many months and years it causes pain and arthritis to develop in the joints of the lower extremities.
When a person experiences back discomfort, and painful arthritic problems of the joints of the leg they tend to become less mobile and more sedentary. This leads to inability of activity, a tendency to become deconditioned and out of shape and the loss of normal function of one’s daily activities.
In my 37 years of chiropractic practice, I have seen this often. Patients will develop chronic pain of the low back, which in turn causes them to limp, which then places abnormal stress on their hips, knees and feet, leading to arthritic lower extremity joints, which further exacerbates the problem. These patients tend to move about less than less, experience weight gain and lose their overall health.
However, this scenario does not have to occur, or if it does, steps can be taken to improve the situation.
Chiropractic care has been utilized for more than 100 years to help people with back pain relief. If a back discomfort episode is a new and acute it can be addressed by chiropractic care and resolved. This is the ideal treatment and can help minor back problems from becoming long-term, chronic paint of the back.
If however, back pain has existed for an extended period of time and become chronic, it can also be addressed with chiropractic care. Studies show that although not all chronic back discomfort problems can be completely alleviated, most can be improved. This improvement may be enough to allow a person to walk normally, or as well as possible, thus relieving stress of the lower extremity hip joints, joints of the knee and the feet.
When safe, gentle chiropractic care is utilized to correct or manage discomfort of the back, give pain relief, improve one’s gate and minimize stress of the joints of lower extremity a person is more likely to be able to move about properly, stay conditioned and healthy and maintain their ability to have a functionally normal life.
Anyone suffering from back problems and lower extremity problems of the hips, knees and feet would do well to consult with a local chiropractor for possible gentle, safe chiropractic relief of pain.
Thank You Veterans. From the Pittsburgh North Hills chiropractic office of Dr. James J Schofield!