Do you experience pain down the back of one or both legs? Is it painful to sit for long periods of time? Does it hurt when you move a certain way or make a sudden movement? It could be that your sciatic nerve is giving you problems.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the pelvis, through the hip area, buttocks, and down each leg. As it travels down the legs, it branches into smaller nerves, which provide feeling to the thighs, legs, and feet as well as control of many of the lower leg muscles.
The hallmark of sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of this nerve, which varies extensively from a mild ache to a sharp burning sensation or even excruciating discomfort. Numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected leg may also accompany it. Sometimes, it feels like a jolt or electric shock. Often beginning gradually, the pain intensifies over time and is likely to worsen by sitting, coughing, or sneezing. For men, this pain is sometimes caused by sitting on their wallet, typically carried in the back pocket of their pants.
Sciatica is actually an indication of an underlying problem that’s putting pressure on a nerve in your lower back. A bulging or herniated lumbar disc is the most common cause of this nerve compression; piriformis syndrome is another. The piriformis muscle lies directly over the sciatic nerve, so when this muscle becomes tight or spasms, it places direct pressure onto the nerve.
Most of the time, treatment consists of combining stretches, deep tissue massage of the piriformis muscle, and chiropractic care. If you’re plagued by sciatic pain, don’t delay seeking medical treatment.
Dr. O’Hara’s office is located at 940 S. Arthur Avenue in Arlington Heights. For more information, call 847/577-3597 or visit www.oharachiro.com.