Winchester Chiro

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  CONDITIONS & TREATMENTS << Hip, Leg, and Knee


Sciatica sufferers often have severe pain along the sciatic nerve path, usually in the back of the leg and thigh, sometimes to the ankle, foot, and toe(s). There may be searing, sharp pain but also paresthesias or strange nerve feelings such as pins and needles, burning, tingling, prickling, sensations or tenderness--that may be felt. Ironically, with all the pain and nerve sensations, the leg might feel numb! To complicate matters, the location of sciatic pain may vary. It is usually in the back of the legs or thighs, in some individuals pain is in the front or side of the legs. This may mean your lower disc has been damaged or become inflammed. The sciatic nerve itself may also be inflamed or irritated.

Generally, in the initial stage of this condition the first thing to develop is back pain. Often, a minor stretch or bend in the wrong direction will bring on the "attack". Usually, this is a movement that is just the "straw that breaks the camel's back". In other words, you have a pre- existing problem that is suddenly made serious by this improper motion. Not all leg pain is sciatica, but most all sciatica involves leg pain.

The Sciatic Nerve
The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest in the body. It is made up of five nerves that leave the spinal cord from the lower spinal column, join in the pelvic area and then travel down the leg. As this nerve travels down the thigh into the leg it branches into many smaller nerves to reach the muscles and joints of the thigh, knees, calf, ankle, foot and toes. Branches from these same vertebral levels also supply the contents of the lower abdomen, the bladder and male and female genitalia, and the skin covering both lower extremities.

The Pain Varies
The quality of the pain may vary as well. There may be constant pain but then it may let up for hours or even days. The intensity may vary, it may ache, or be knife-like. Sometimes postural movements like lying down or changing positions, affect the pain and sometimes they don't. In this way, sciatica is like a toothache or earache, always there no matter what you do. In severe cases, sciatica causes a loss of reflexes or even a shrinking of the calf and or thigh muscles. To sciatica sufferers, a good night's sleep may be a thing of the past. Simple things like walking, bending, turning, sitting, or standing can be difficult or impossible.

Causes of Sciatica
Like most other conditions, sciatica has a wide variety of causes. Unlike most other conditions, however, this health problem's link to the spinal column is often very obvious. A misaligned spine, a bulging, inflamed or protruded disc, can irritate the sciatic nerve which may result in sciatica. Often, spasm of a small muscle in the gluteal area (the piriformis) due to overstretching or abnormal posture will cause sciatica.

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All materials from eORTHOPOD® are the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. and are used herein by permission. eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C..