Us millennials joke about sciatica as a hopeful excuse for a sick day from work or to simply make fun of our parents, but the truth is it can be a pretty serious pain that affects so many, even the young buck millennials. So what causes that intense shooting, burning, tingling pain that starts in your lower back and can end up traveling all the way down into your feet? Well a few culprits could be to blame here so I’ll break it down so you can see where you fit in.
1. Weak core. Now this doesn’t mean you need a 6-pack to avoid sciatic pain because even those people have this issue as well. When we talk about core stability, we are referring to the deep intrinsic abdominal muscles that stabilize our trunk and help our spine maintain the proper curvature to accommodate for our body weight. But chances are you are lacking some strength in these muscles due to either a ton of sitting (aka work) or not performing the proper exercises to build and maintain the strength needed.
2. Tight musculature. There are a variety of muscles in our lower back and buttock region and the problem with this is the sciatic nerve runs underneath all of these muscles from our lower spine all the way down into our feet. This means there are plenty of opportunities for it to be compressed and agitated. The muscle we commonly find that is too tight and leading to the sciatic pain is the piriformis. This muscle comes from the front of your sacrum (triangular bone at the end of your spine) and inserts into the top of your femur. This guy gets tight due to our glute muscles being deconditioned, thus it picks up the slack and is being over worked.
3. Weak glutes, tight hamstrings, angry sartorius. First of all, sartorius is a muscle in your leg, not a dinosaur, although I can see where the confusion would happen there. This guy could very likely be the reason behind your lower back pain and it’s actually due to other muscles being way too weak. Just because your butt looks good in your jeans (or maybe it doesn’t) does not mean you have strong glute muscles. One of the most deconditioned muscles we see in the office is the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius spans from your lower back all the way down onto the side your upper thigh. Its purpose is to allow us to maintain a one legged stance when we are walking or running, so basically we should be using it constantly. The issue is that the more time we spend sitting, the more that muscle continues to not get activated, the structural curves in our spine are being reversed, and now other muscles have to be recruited to pick up the slack of the weak ones when we finally get on our feet and active. Hence the tight hamstrings and sartorius. We are using these two to maintain our ability to walk, run, and stand on one leg instead of the much larger gluteus medius muscle. Hamstrings and sartorius are most definitely not intended to be tight, so when they are, we can get sciatica because the nerve runs right underneath them. Talk about bad news.
As I’m sure you can see, there is a lot that goes into, and could be causing, your sciatic pain. This is why it’s so important to not ignore the pain signals your body is sending you. Pain is your brain’s way of telling you to get help and so often we just hush the pain with pain killers. The last thing you want is for a nerve to continuously receive damage because eventually it will become permanent and even more painful. If you or someone you know is currently living with sciatica, schedule an appointment with us now! 623.551.6677. We will perform a full examination and x-ray films if needed to get to the true cause of your pain and create a personalized care plan to get it solved once as for all!
Dr. Courtney Knight is a recent Doctor of Chiropractic graduate of National University of Health Sciences in St. Petersburg, Florida and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 2013. Go Blue! Dr. Knight was born and raised in a small town in southwest Michigan where her sense of community and wellness drove her to pursue a career in the holistic health field. She saw the inconsistency in what society was being told was "healthy" and desired the research on how to truly correct one's diet to fuel their body rather than feed cravings. Dr. Knight focused her studies on the anti-inflammatory diet, discovering that our bodies are in a state of chronic inflammation due to the food we are eating which in turn, is the underlying cause of so many diseases plaguing our world today.... see more
Dr. Brian Hester, originally from Alabama, graduated from Life University in 1999 with his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He moved to Anthem, Arizona in 2003 and opened his wellness center. Dr. Hester's mission is to provide people in the North Phoenix area, with the tools they need to identify stressors in their life and the underlying causes of their health challenges. With Dr. Hester as a health partner, patients can make positive lifestyle changes and take control of their lives...... see more
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