Literally a Pain in the Butt; What is Sciatica?

As one of the most commonly experienced pains, Sciatica is caused by pressure being put on the sciatic nerve which runs down the buttocks and back of leg.  Usually this is caused by pressure on the fourth or fifth lumbar vertebrae.  Symptoms can include:

  • Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling, or searing (versus a dull ache)
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
  • A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk
  • Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes (it rarely occurs only in the foot)

What Causes Sciatic Pain?

There are a few reasons for Sciatic Pain, ranging from injury to aging. Causes can include:

Degenerative disc disease: As we age, disc degeneration is a natural process, but as the disc degenerates it can cause inflammatory proteins to irritate the local nerve root(s). Additionally, bone spurs sometimes develop with degeneration and press against a nerve.

Isthmic spondylolisthesis: is a condition that happens when a small stress fracture allows one vertebral body to slip forward on another, usually the Lumbar 5 over the Sacral 1 or Lumbosacral Joint.  This along with a collapsing disc can cause sciatica.

Lumbar spinal stenosis: another condition that can occur with aging, the spinal canal is narrowed causing nerve irritation. The condition typically results from a combination of one or more of the following: enlarged facet joints, overgrowth of soft tissue, and a bulging disc placing pressure on the nerve roots, causing sciatica pain. Arthritis is often a factor.

Piriformis syndrome: while not an actual radiculopathy (the medical term for an degeneration of spinal discs) the piriformis muscle, which is in the buttocks can pinch or irritate a root of the sciatic nerve causing sciatic-like pain.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction: another condition that is not a true radiculopathy, this is irritation of the sacroiliac join (bottom of the spine) which can also irritate the L5 nerve, causing sciatica-like pain.

How Does The Giving Tree Practice Help with Sciatic Pain?

When someone is suffering from sciatic pain, it can compromise their ability to function well. This is especially true for people who are sedentary, who work in office or other jobs that require a lot of sitting. The Giving Tree suggests and offers acupuncture to help with the pain. Acupuncture can relieve this pressure by reducing inflammation in the area and allowing the body to heal itself. Often in just a few visits this condition can be dramatically improved.  From a Chinese medical perspective, we are relieving energy stagnation in the area and boasting the kidney meridian as well as mobilization of the bladder and gallbladder meridians which run through the area.

Don’t let sciatic pain, or any pain stop you from doing the things you love. Contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Baum and get rid of your pain!”