Lower back pain, the leading cause of disability worldwide according to Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, brings a great number of patients into our office. Sciatica, an inflammation of the sciatic nerve serves as the source of many of these complaints. Sciatic pain often begins in the lower back or the hip and causes an uncomfortable sensation that continues down through the buttocks, the legs and even the tops and bottoms of feet in some cases. The pain may run down one or both sides of the body. In addition, tingling, numbness and weakness often appear in lower limbs. That in mind, if you feel sharp pain shooting down from the lower back, it might be time to learn about sciatica.
Sharp Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain described as “tingling,” “burning,” or “electric,” rather than a dull ache or soreness often leads us to consider a sciatica diagnosis. And while the majority of those suffering with sciatica experience it in middle age, the New England Journal of Medicine estimates 43 percent of the population may experience sciatica at some point in their life. Discomfort may be continuous or come and go at varying periods of time. Pain may not directly tie to an injury or activity, which commonly adds to patient confusion.
Inability to pinpoint an exact moment or activity sparking pain usually arises due to the diverse causes of sciatic nerve inflammation. Commonly, a pinched nerve triggers the symptoms. This can stem from an awkward twist, exercise or even pregnancy weight distribution. Our sedentary lifestyle also plays into this. Constantly sitting with poor posture or uneven weight distribution often results in pinched nerves and sciatica. Those fond of sitting with their legs crossed increase the risk. Other causes can include a herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, scar tissue or stress fractures. And, while most sciatica cases are not serious, they can lead to increasing pain and discomfort when left untreated. It’s essential to achieve a proper diagnosis prior to treatment to get the best relief.
Treatment and Relief
A proper treatment decision stems from both the diagnosis and the severity of discomfort the patient is currently experiencing. Most patients with a pinched nerve or muscle spasms find relief with corrective, non-invasive, drug-free treatments, such as gentle back exercises, soft tissue treatment of the low back and hips, spinal manipulations and cooling therapy. At Financial District Chiropractic, we also focus on discussing specific habits or movements that prevent future nerve inflamation.
Lower back pain provides a warning symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. Let us determine if your pain stems from sciatic nerve issues or other areas of the musculoskeletal system. The sooner we define the problem, the sooner we get you back to an active, pain-free life.