Typically, people who have sciatic pain suffer from misalignment of the pelvis, herniated disk, have osteophytes or bone spurs causing inflammation and pain, muscle dysfunction, tumors, infection, or injury to the lumbar spine. This causes lumbar pain (lumbago), hip pain, leg pain, foot pain, and buttock pain. Symptoms of sciatica include: burning along the back of the leg, numbness of the leg &/or foot, cramping of the leg &/or foot, or tingling/paresthesia of the leg &/or foot. Pain can increase with walking, sitting, driving, sit to stand motion, laying on affected side, bending, and standing too long in one place.
Misalignment or "subluxation" of the pelvis and lumbar spine can be present for years. Three things cause pain: 1) change in position of a joint; 2) degeneration over time; and 3) inflammation or muscle spasms. Sciatica can occur suddenly due to injury, but it can also be due to an old or existing problem. When different joints or levels of the spine are not moving smoothly, the nerves can become irritated due to inflammation and muscle spasms. Previous injuries accumulate over our lives and conservative care should be the first choice when treating sciatic pain.
Sciatica can be diagnosed with a proper medical history and physical examination. Orthopedic tests are performed by a trained health professional to diagnose sciatica. X-rays can be used to identify the cause, and sometimes advanced studies, such as lumbar MRI or CT scans are necessary.
Conservative care is the first choice when treating sciatic pain. Chiropractors treat sciatica with a series of prescribed adjustments, physical therapy to reduce muscle spasms, core exercises to balance the pelvis and back, stretching exercises to improve muscle balance and to improve spinal health. If necessary, referrals are made for pain medication, anti-inflammatory medications, and even surgical procedures as a last resort.