As with many descriptions of conditions, sciatica is misunderstood by most in the Muskegon area. At Zehr Chiropractic we have learned to ask many questions and be sure to listen and look carefully at a patient to be sure the doctor is fully understanding the patient’s concerns.
Often times people will have low back pain that is originating at the sacroiliac joint of the pelvis (the dimples) and say they are having sciatica. Other times there may be pain that begins in the buttocks only or down the thigh above the knee. While all of the these are real conditions and sources of pain, none of them are sciatica.
True sciatica, or a pinched sciatic nerve, is defined as pain that travels the entire leg and into the foot. Usually the pain is sharp or burning and numbness can be present. In the more severe cases, weakness will be present with loss of control of the foot and leg. These symptoms are one sided the majority of the time.
The causes of sciatica to patients in West Michigan can also vary and be misunderstood. The most common assumption is that of a disc problem. The intervertebral discs can bulge, protrude, rupture, herniate, but not really “slip” as many say.
Besides the disc, other structures can pinch or irritate the sciatic nerve. The vertebral joints themselves can misalign, become irritated and therefore effect the nerves as they exit the spine. These joints as well as the disc can degenerate over time (degenerative joint disease or degenerative disc disease) and cause narrowing of the space the nerves travel as they exit the spine.
There is even a type of sciatica that does not involve the spine directly. As the sciatic nerve travels through the buttock region, to continue down the leg, there is a smaller muscle called the piriformis that can become taught or spasmed and compress the sciatic nerve.
Clearly it can be seen with the variety of possible symptoms and causes that a thorough exam must be performed. This allows understanding of the true cause of pain.
The final misunderstanding Zehr Chiropractic will discuss is that of the role of chiropractic. Often medical doctors and lay people alike assume chiropractic care is not appropriate for disc problems. This is not true with all forms of chiropractic care. Zehr Chiropractic in Norton Shores, Michigan uses adjusting techniques that require no manipulation which could further damage the disc. In some cases adjustments are not performed at the damaged disc level, this is because the real problem has not been corrected as the true cause does not lie there but elsewhere. So do not assume pain pills or surgery are your only options. Also do not assume it will just “go away.” At Zehr Chiropractic it is often observed that the patient has a long history of pain coming and going but at some point has decided to stay. The disc problem is a symptom, like the pain, more than a cause in most cases.
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