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Complications affecting the lumbar region of the spine can affect a wide amount of the population at least once throughout their lifetime. Low back pain is one of the most frequently reported symptoms, together with various other symptoms, causing pain and discomfort. Although low back pain can include several other symptoms, a collection of specific symptoms could signal the presence of another disorder: sciatica.
Affecting millions among the American population, sciatica can be characterized within a range of minor irritation to a severe, disabling complication. Despite how frequently its diagnosed and treated, there’s an assortment of information about the condition that many individuals do not yet understand and its often a topic of confusion among the general population.
First of all, sciatica can best be described as a group of symptoms from an injury or an underlying medical condition rather than a singular disorder. The term is used to specify symptoms of pain, tingling and numbness sensations, or weakness that often originates on the lower back and radiates through the sciatic nerve found in either leg.
Also, when it comes to sciatica, the common injuries or underlying conditions causing the symptoms differ greatly based on age. Adults under the age of 60 frequently develop sciatica as a result of a lower back, or lumbar, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and isthmic spondylolisthesis. Adults over the age of 60 frequently develop sciatica as a result of degenerative changes, such as lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis. Occasionally, pregnancy, or injuries such as muscle strains and bone fractures, which may create scar tissue, can also begin to develop sciatica symptoms.
In addition, the initial location of the nerve compression can affect the overall symptoms of sciatica as well as create new ones. Five nerve roots found on the low back region connect to form the large sciatic nerve. Symptoms can generally be defined by which of these five nerve roots becomes compressed or irritated. For example, numbness on the feet is common when the nerve root near the L5 vertebra in the lumbar region is pinched. Then, it’s also possible to experience multiple symptoms. Various nerve roots can become compressed at the same time, causing a combination of symptoms, such as pain or a tingling sensation on the outside area of the foot while simultaneously causing stiffness on the leg.
When seeking treatment, an individual’s source of their sciatica symptoms can help determine the appropriate care plan in order to relieve pain and discomfort. A chiropractor for example, will diagnose an individual for any injuries or underlying conditions that could be causing their sciatica symptoms as well as determine the location of the nerve impingement to recommend a proper set of stretches and exercises. The specific exercises can vary depending on the location of the nerve damage or injury. Certain symptoms of sciatica may require immediate medical attention. It is rare for sciatica symptoms to require immediate surgery but if an individual experiences worsening neurological symptoms that begin to affect both legs, if there is bladder or bowel incontinence, or if symptoms occur directly after trauma from an accident, its essential for the individual to seek immediate medical attention.
Sciatica is also known as lumbar radiculopathy or may often be referred to as pinched or compressed nerve pain. Many individuals may find these terms confusing when they are used interchangeably but these refer to the same diagnosis. Furthermore, sciatica is a frequent term used to describe a variety of symptoms on the legs, however, leg pain may not always be due to sciatica. A piriformis muscle complication or a sacroiliac joint issue can also cause pain and discomfort that travels down the leg similar to sciatica.
A majority of individuals whom experience sciatica can achieve relief from their symptoms within 6 to 12 weeks without relying on surgery. In fact, studies have shown that the long-term results of surgery and non-surgical treatments are similar. Faster pain relief may occur through surgery but, after a year, both surgical and non-surgical approaches produce identical outcomes. Throughout an individual’s treatment for sciatica, the application of ice and/or heat therapy, gentle stretching, and low-impact exercises, such as walking, can help ease sciatic nerve pain during the process of rehabilitation.
The symptoms of sciatica can manifest due to a broad variety of factors, including trauma from an injury or an aggravated condition. It’s essential to be able to identify these signs in order to seek the proper care and treatment for the specific complication. Chiropractic care is a common form of treatment utilized to help reduce and improve the symptoms of sciatica.
For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
After being involved in an automobile accident, the sheer force of the impact can cause damage or injury to the body, primarily to the structures surrounding the spine. An auto collision can ultimately affect the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues surrounding the spine, commonly the lumbar region of the spine, causing symptoms such as low back pain. Sciatica is a common set of symptoms after an automobile accident, which may require immediate medical attention to determine its source and follow through with treatment.
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