Dr. Kristin Kukenberger, DC
Sciatica: A Real Pain in the Butt
Sciatic nerve pain can present in various ways and is usually a symptom of an underlying issue. It can also be caused by biomechanical changes and stressors like pregnancy. There’s good news though - Sciatica can be treated and is not something you have to live with or “rest, until it goes away on it’s own.” Depending on the cause, it’s possible to feel better today.
Do I have this?
Sciatic nerve pain is often described as sharp and shooting, but can vary person to person from a mild ache to severe pain that might just bring you to the hospital. Burning, electric shock feelings, or even pressure like you’re wearing a tight sock are possible depending on the cause of this symptom. Numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness can also occur. Pain and weakness do not need to occur in the same location which can make it seem like multiple things are happening.*
These pains can be felt anywhere along the pathway of the sciatic nerve, which begins near the middle of each gluteal region and continues down the back of the thigh and can even continue all the way to your foot! Sciatic pain is usually a one-sided problem.
What causes sciatic pain?
Think about your lifestyle: your work life, home life, past times, house chores, etc. How are you moving? … Are you moving enough? … Do you perform repetitive tasks?
Are you causing micro injuries that could add up to a bigger problem? (Unless you are actively thinking about how you are moving and/or have been trained to move properly, the answer for almost everyone is yes!)
Here are some typical causes of sciatic pain:
● Herniated or bulging disc
● Degenerative disc disease
● Bony degeneration of the spine creating spurs
● Spinal stenosis
● Piriformis Syndrome (usually muscle spasm/tightness)
● Weight gain
● Prolonged sitting
● Diabetes (nerve damage)
● Autoimmune disorders that cause bony changes
○ The hormone Relaxin makes joints and ligaments less stable putting pressure on
○ Postural changes
○ Baby can press on this nerve directly inside the pelvis
○ Muscle tightness compensating for change in center of gravity
How do you fix it?
Chiropractic care is a great place to start. Your sciatic symptom will be evaluated for a cause using orthopedic exams and imaging (if necessary). Any muscles, ligaments and joints participating in the cause and affected by it will be evaluated and treated as needed. If you are in a great deal of pain, lighter force techniques may be used during this time. Therapeutic ultrasound may also be used to heal injured areas, outside of pregnancy.
Your care continues outside of the office with prescribed stretches and exercises. These are an integral part of your care and must be completed regularly for the best results.
If no improvement is seen in a few visits, or imaging dictates a more serious issue that Chiropractic cannot address, you will be referred to your primary care physician, an orthopedist, or a surgeon depending on your diagnosis.
Dr. Kristin holds a special interest in pelvic pains like sciatica. We can get you started on a path to ending this pain, beginning with a new patient evaluation. You can schedule your visit online at: DrKristinDC.janeapp.com. We can’t wait to get you moving pain-free again!
*If you have severe muscle weakness or changes in your bowel and/or bladder habits (can’t go; or incontinence), you should be evaluated immediately.