Sciatica, probably one of the most common self diagnoses I hear in practice! For the most part people inaccurately use the term “sciatica” to describe any pains that occur in the lower back and radiate into the leg. True sciatica, is the result of compression and or irritation of the spinal nerves either as they exit the low back or further down where they form a bundle (the sciatic nerve) passing through the pelvis into the back of the leg. Sciatica can be a combination of pain, pins and needles, numbness and or weakness in the affected leg and can be on one or both sides.
There are a multitude of other reasons why someone may get back and leg pain!
These include though not limited to injuries to the muscles, joints and supporting structures of the spine, pelvis, hips and lower legs.
Injuries that we commonly see in practice that are mistaken for sciatica are:
1) Hip Bursitis
2) Hamstring tendonitis
3) Recurrent Gluteus medius strain with active trigger point referral
4) Lumbar facet joint sprain
5) Sacroiliac sprain and/or instability
6) Foot and ankle injuries such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis
Each injury requires a different management strategy for a full and proper recovery to occur. So when low back and leg pain present a full evaluation and proper diagnosis is the most important step before pursuing any particular type of treatment.
Here are some other distinctions that need to be made about true sciatica:
1) Can occur with or without back pain
2) Occurs in the back of the leg. Pain in the front of the leg has nothing to do with the sciatic nerve.
3) Is commonly caused by disc herniation
4) Is less commonly caused by compression by the muscles in the pelvic region
At Better Health we have a very experienced team of chiropractors, physiotherapists and podiatrists ready to review your case and make sure you get the right sort of care for your particular problem. If you would like further help with your sciatica please contact us on 9518 0722.
Yours in Better Health
Dr Andrew Richards (Chiropractor)