WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF SCIATICA?
Pain from Sciatica is typically felt on one side of the buttocks or leg, but rarely both sides. Pain originates in the low back or buttocks and continues along the back of the leg into the lower leg and foot. Sciatic pain can be described as sharp and searing. Some describe a “pins-and-needles” sensation, numbness, weakness or a prickling sensation down the leg. Sciatic pain can feel better when lying down or walking, but worse when standing or sitting. Pain can be constant or come and go.
WHAT CAUSES SCIATICA?
Sciatic nerve irritation can be caused by misalignment of the vertebra of the low back, tailbone or pelvis. This may be from injury or a chronic degenerative process. Spinal disc degeneration or bulging discs can also irritate the sciatic nerve. Bone spurs in the low back can press on the sciatic nerve pain causing pain in the buttocks or leg. Tight gluteal muscles and a tight piriformis muscle can cause sciatic pain. The piriformis muscle goes from the hip to tailbone and assists in rotating the leg to the side. All of these areas need to be evaluated to make a proper diagnosis to treat Sciatica.
HOW IS SCIATICA DIAGNOSED?
A detailed history is a crucial first step in the diagnostic process. It is important to learn about any past injuries or traumas, the nature of the problem as it presents for you, how long you have been suffering and any other complicating factors.
In order to properly diagnose Degenerative Disc Disorder, a detailed exam by our medical provider or chiropractor is needed. During the evaluation, they will look at your posture, range of motion, and muscular imbalances. Supporting muscles of the spine will be evaluated for tightness, swelling, tenderness and trigger points. Orthopedic, neurological and reflex testing will also be performed to evaluate the spinal joints, nerves and supportive muscles.
Your medical provider or chiropractor may order imaging to further evaluate the alignment of the low back and identify possible signs of degenerative changes and arthritis.
- X-Ray – Used to visualize bone, an X-Ray may be ordered to rule out fractures, loss of joint spacing, misalignment of vertebra and joints, and evaluate the stage of arthritic changes present.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Using a large magnet and radio waves, an MRI can help to better evaluate the soft tissue of the spine, like muscles, nerves and spinal discs.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) – A CT Scan is another way to evaluate soft tissue for those who can’t have an MRI. Computers and a rotating x-ray machine are used to take cross-sectional (slices) images of the body.