Have you experienced shooting pain that runs from your lower back into your leg? Is this pain more noticeable after you spend time sitting or standing? The root cause could be sciatica. Even if you haven’t experienced the pain of sciatica yet, you could be at risk of developing this unfortunate condition.
Although aches and pains are a normal part of aging, the symptoms of sciatica can stop you in your tracks, making it difficult to carry out your daily routine. Ruben Garcia, DC, and the team at Peak Physical Medicine in Visalia, California, want to help.
Our team is experienced and highly skilled at alleviating the symptoms associated with sciatica and treating the root cause for real and lasting relief. At Peak Physical Medicine, we’re dedicated to your being pain-free, so you can get back to living your life — without drugs or surgery!
Read on to learn more about sciatica and if you’re at risk for developing this condition.
What is sciatica?
Starting in your lower back and branching out to your hips, buttocks, and down your legs, the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. Sciatica refers to the pain you experience when the sciatic nerve is irritated.
When pressure is exerted on your sciatic nerve, often from a herniated disc, sciatica can be triggered. The pain usually goes down one side of your body from the lower back into the leg. It can sometimes reach your foot.
Though a pinched nerve caused by a herniated disc is the most common trigger, there are other possible causes of sciatica. These other causes include arthritis, joint dysfunction, pregnancy, bone spurs, tumors, inflamed muscles or tissue, and infection.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
One of the most common signs of sciatica is pain that runs down the leg on only one side of the body from the lower back and through the buttocks. Sciatica pain can range from dull and achy to shooting and stabbing.
You may also have sciatica if you also experience numbness or tingling sensations. Sciatica episodes can last only hours, or the condition can come and go for months. Sciatica often worsens after you sit or stand for long periods of time.
Am I at risk for sciatica?
Sciatica can develop for a number of reasons, but certain factors increase your risk of developing this painful condition. Here are the factors that put you at risk:
Although age by itself isn’t a risk factor, sciatica is more common in people between 30-50. And age-related changes in your spine can contribute to the development of the condition.
2. Sedentary lifestyle
Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, and improves your musculoskeletal system. Sitting for long periods, on the other hand, puts excess stress and pressure on your lower legs and back, increasing your risk of sciatica.
3. Being overweight or obese
When you carry extra weight — especially around the middle — your back suffers. The extra pressure these pounds bring to your spinal system causes ongoing strain, increasing your chances of sciatica.
4. Certain occupations
Some jobs that require you to carry heavy objects, drive for long periods of time, or twist your spine can contribute to the development of sciatica.
5. Having diabetes
Because of the increased risk of nerve damage, people with diabetes are more likely to develop sciatica.
Can sciatica be treated?
In very mild cases, sciatica may go away on its own relatively quickly. Most times, however, sciatica can be relieved with integrative chiropractic treatment. It’s important to have an evaluation from a skilled provider, like the team at Peak Physical Medicine.
Your provider performs a physical exam and evaluates your medical history, paying close attention to your symptoms and signs of sciatica. Based on the diagnosis and results of your exam, treatment may include:
- Spinal decompression
- Ice and/or heat packs
- Therapeutic stretching and exercises
- Chiropractic adjustments
One of more of these safe, minimally invasive treatments may be used to alleviate your pain. In addition, our team also treats any disc, joint, or muscle problems to prevent your sciatica from returning.