Why that shooting pain might not be sciatica after all
How often does someone grimace with pain and, when asked is anything’s wrong, reply “oh, just a bit of sciatica?”
Here at London Wellness Centres, a large percentage of our customers come to have their back pain looked at. Of those that walk in with a self-diagnosis of sciatica, we estimate that nearly three-quarters actually don’t have the well-known nerve condition at all.
What is sciatica?
Sciatic nerve pain is exactly as it sounds: pain caused by inflammation surrounding, or the physical compression of, the sciatic nerve. This sits in the lower part of the back and pain can be felt in the back itself but also in the buttocks, hips, legs and knees and as far down as the toes.
So, what exactly is wrong with me?
Sciatica symptoms (that’s the real version of sciatica as opposed to general back pain, both of which are often confused) are numbness and/or tingling in the back, buttocks, legs or big toe. This will be accompanied by pain that transfers from the lower back to the feet, often in shockwaves.
For your condition to be classified as sciatica, the nerve pain should be felt beyond the knee joint. Anything that stops short of this and you’re likely to be suffering from referred pain caused by a different part of your back. Perhaps no less painful, but it’s not sciatica.
Can a chiropractor help with sciatica?
Due to the ease with which this condition is mis-diagnosed, a chiropractor is, in fact, the very best specialist you could see. Their process is thorough and they will always start with an examination to determine the root cause of your pain.
Chiropractic treatments work on the basis that the brain conveys pain messages to the body when it senses something is wrong. It’s a bit like an early warning system – or smoke alarm.
When a chiropractor adjusts a patient’s back, the compression and stiffness that is causing the bran to react is alleviated and the brain can send new signals. However, for the brain to ‘remember’ that things have changed, the treatment needs to be repeated a number of times. Eventually, after a period of time, the brain actually alters the tonality of the muscles, allowing them to relax and you to stop feeling pain.
How can I avoid getting sciatica (or anything similar!?)
The best way to avoid back pain in its entirety is to keep the spine mobile. As soon as we sit still, our posture is unnatural and we will start to feel the effects of that. Take regular breaks, stretch well each day and get any pain looked at straight away. There’s no need to suffer.
Other Useful Information
What’s the difference between an osteopath and chiropractor?
If you’re wondering whether to choose a chiropractor, osteopath or a physiotherapist for your back pain, you might be surprised to learn the results can be very different. The difference between an osteopath and chiropractor might seem minimal but, look deeper into the methods they use and you’ll find out who is likely to be more effective in treating your pain.
Treating a Trapped Nerve
A trapped nerve occurs when there is too much pressure on a nerve, or the surrounding area. The central nervous system is protected by the spine, which ensures the body’s overall stability. A trapped nerve in the back, shoulder or neck is usually caused by a nerve that’s been damaged, usually because pressure has been placed on the nerve by the surrounding bones, cartilage, tendons or muscles.