Do I have sciatica?

I'm wondering if I have sciatica...

I hear this statement at least 2-3x/month from new patients in our chiropractic office.  Most people outside of the medical community are familiar with the term sciatica because they've wondered if they have it themselves or they know someone who has suffered from it.  The good news is, sciatica is fairly easy to diagnose, but what's causing it can be more difficult to figure out.

Sciatica, noun. pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often owing to degeneration of an intervertebral disk.

There your have it, it's pretty straight forward.  To make it even more simple: sciatica = radiating pain into the hip, outer portion of the leg, or the back of the leg.  It is possible to have pain in the leg alone, but it is almost always accompanied by back pain.  So to answer my patient's statement "I'm wondering if I have sciatica..." all I need to do is ask them if they have pain in those locations.

Sciatica in and of itself isn't a ground breaking diagnosis, it literally means pain along the distribution of the sciatic nerve. The key is to figuring out what's causing the sciatica, that's my job.  It can be caused by a few different things:

poor mobility and "locking up" of the lumbar vertebra, muscle spasms, poor posture, lumbar degenerative disc disease, a herniated lumbar disc, bone spurs, stenosis, piriformis syndrome, tumor (less frequent), and others.

This part of the diagnosis takes a professional to figure out.  You'll need an exam and possibly imaging studies such as an x-ray or MRI.  The best strategy to figure out if you have sciatica and what's causing it is to see a conservative care provider such as a chiropractic physician.  We're experts on the spine and nervous system, and are going to do our best to help you heal without drugs (lots of side effects) or surgery (SCARY and high risk of complications.)  Not to mention we are more affordable and spinal manipulation (our primary treatment) is extremely relieving. 

If you find yourself repeating this statement "I'm wondering if I have sciatica..." go to a chiropractic physician and get his or her opinion.  At AccessHealth Chiropractic Center in Cary, NC we are experts at treating this condition and have great success.  Give us a call or stop by and discuss your case with us.