Up to 40% of people report having suffered from sciatica at one point in their life. Sciatica occurs when part of the sciatic nerve is pinched or irritated and can present in different forms of severity ranging from mild to extreme and acute to chronic. The sciatic nerve travels from your low back, through your hips, and down the side of each leg. This vital nerve helps your body move, such as walking and running.
The sciatic nerve travels down the entire leg and symptoms can vary in the lower extremeties. You may notice numbness and tingling in your toes and severe pain in the low back radiating down your leg. Sciatica can develop from a mild injury or even lack of movement, which can restrict nerve flow.
As chiropractors, we specialize in working with your nervous system. We see cases of sciatica every day by addressing the root cause of your pain. People often try to mask pain with medication but grow tired of the side effects and lack long-term sciatica pian relief. At Priestley Family Chiropractic, we address the root cause by relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve, allowing the body to heal naturally.
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A Comprehensive Workup to Address All Health Concerns
How Our Sciatica Care Plan Works
We will perform an in-depth consultation, palpate your spine for misalignments, and document your posture. Nerve scans will tell us exactly where pressure on your nervous system is causing muscle tension and affecting organ function. A chiropractor will also do a stress test and, if necessary, take digital x-rays.
2. Receive A
Plan Of Action
The chiropractor will review your test results and have you come back the next day to review their findings. They will give you their best recommendations on where to begin correcting your problem and the most cost effective way to take care of your health challenges. Each body is different and needs individualized care.
3. Get Back
To Living Life
At Priestley Family Chiropractic, each chiropractor believes you should be able to live your life the way you choose, without physical limitations or fears of injury. When your nervous system is functioning at its best you feel better, have more energy, sleep better, concentrate properly, and are an overall better person.
How We Treat Sciatica Pain in Newport Beach, CA
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
With every patient, we’ll conduct an in-depth consultation about your sciatica. We will review your health history to understand what led up to the sciatica pain you’re experiencing and how sciatica affects your life. We’ll start palpating (feeling) your spine to look for misalignments – or subluxations.
We will take a picture of your posture and measure any discrepancies, like head tilt to high shoulders or a shifted pelvis, to determine the severity of your misalignments. This allows us to do comparison studies to measure the success of your care.
We will perform a series of nerve scans to see how the misalignments affect how your body functions. An EMG that measures electrical activity in your low back muscles will send electrical impulses through your paravertebral muscles so that we can tell how tight your muscles are and the location of the tension. A thermal scan will assess your autonomic control and tell us the location of the primary subluxation. By measuring your body’s thermal patterns we can tell the area of nerve interference and which organs are affected. The heart rate variability will tell us how your body deals with stress when you are not in a stressful environment.
We also use digital x-rays, when necessary, to see how many misalignments you have, how long they’ve been there, and their phase of degeneration.
All this information will paint a clear picture of what’s going on and help us get to the root cause of your issue. Together, we’ll review our report of findings so you know what we have found, if we can help you, our best recommendations, and the most cost-effective plans available to begin correcting your problem.
Specific Chiropractic Care In Newport Beach, CA
Sciatica is commonly caused by misalignments of the spine called a subluxation. Subluxations occur when a bone or section of the spine shifts out of its normal position. This causes interference and irritation to the nerves, which can cause symptoms such as low back pain, pain radiating down the legs, weakness in the legs, and numbness and tingling. Subluxations also affect how well your spine can move. If these misalignments are not corrected, over time, they can cause degeneration of the joints and lead to arthritis.
At Priestley Family Chiropractic, we perform specific adjustments to the spine, which remove pressure from the nerves and allow the joints to move easier. Subluxations can be resolved through chiropractic care, but it can take time, especially for a chronic problem. Removing subluxation from the low back can restore proper function to the nerves, and symptoms like sciatica can diminish. If the root cause of your problem comes from a subluxation in the lumbar spine, you will continue to have symptoms until the sciatica pain is addressed. That is why chiropractic is so crucial to eliminating sciatica.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
Sciatica often originates from muscle imbalances due to poor posture or injury. Herniated discs and sitting too much are some of the most common issues that cause sciatica. This imbalance can cause muscle weakness and tightness in the low back by putting too much stress on your spine. At Priestley Family Chiropractic, our doctors create a custom exercise plan that will help to correct postural distortions and restore balance to the low back. This balance and stability allow our patients to hold their chiropractic adjustments better and longer, providing more sustained relief from conditions like sciatica.
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Common Causes of Sciatica Pain in Newport Beach, CA
Herniated Lumbar Discs
One of the leading causes of sciatica we see in Newport Beach is bulged lumbar discs. When the spine is not in its proper position, it puts more pressure on one side of the disc than the other. The pressure can force the disc fibers to tear or the nucleus pulposus, the gel-like substance in the middle of the disc, to break through the outer layer.
Discs are made up of crisscross fibers that go from one vertebra to the other. They’re movable and are hydrated through the movement of the spine. You will often hear us say, “movement is life and lack of movement is lack of life”. It’s essential for the body to have movement to keep these discs hydrated. That’s one of the reasons why our sedentary lifestyle and constant sitting are such a huge problem for sciatica. Without movement, the discs begin to dehydrate, and the weight of gravity pushes any fluid they might have out of the disc, making them brittle and weak.
Picture a spinal disc as a sponge. When it’s wet, it’s soft and supple. It can move, bend, and twist. When that sponge dries out over time, you leave it on the counter for the day and go about your business, it becomes hard and brittle. If you try to bend it, it will crack. If you put water back on it, it’ll soften up and be pliable, making it much more effective at its job. Chiropractic adjustments help keep discs hydrated, supple, and effective.
A disc herniation is one step past a bulge. A disc herniates when the nucleus breaks out of the disc’s outer layer. Herniations can be excruciating and debilitating, causing radiating pain, muscle spasms, numbness & tingling, and even muscle weakness.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is another form of arthritis. Over time, your spine will lose its proper position through accumulative bad habits like poor posture or injury. A spine that is not in its proper position will wear down at an accelerated rate. It’s no different than the tires on your car. When they’re out of alignment, the tire wears down much faster. If there’s more weight on one side of your spine than the other, you’re adding uneven pressure with each step you take. This will weigh down one side of the disc, dehydrate it, and cause the body to produce bone spurs, instigating the arthritic process.
Obesity exacerbates degenerative disc disease. Not only does carrying extra belly fat put more pressure on the lower back, but the extra weight will also push down on the disc, squeezing fluid out of it. A sedentary lifestyle also accelerates degeneration. Movement is critical to the spine as it helps hydrate the discs. The more a disc degenerates, the more the spine’s movement decreases, which is a vicious negative feedback loop. This is one of the reasons we see accelerated degenerative disc disease in older people. As they age, movement does not become a priority, or it becomes more difficult. That keeps them from participating in physical activity. As the discs shrink, they get closer to one another, leaving very little space for movement. Eventually, the bones fuse together.
A shrinking disc also means less space for the nerve. Increased pressure on the nerve will cause more dysfunction throughout the body and a lower level of overall health. Over the years, we have seen significant health gains when our patients consistently receive chiropractic care.
We’ve been able to increase their disc space and relieve pressure on the nerves, improving the overall function of their body and its systems.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. If you’re suffering from degenerative disc disease, the body will deposit calcium inside the spinal canal to try and strengthen the bones. These calcium deposits are bone spurs that only further close off the spinal canal. This pressure on the spinal cord interferes with information traveling from the brain to the body and back to the brain.
The same that happens on the inside of the spine can happen on the outside. Off of the spinal cord come spinal nerves. They exit the spinal column through a hole known as the foramen. The body will produce calcium deposits to try to fortify a weak system. That calcium can block the foramen, putting pressure on the nerves and interfering with information traveling from the brain to the body and back to the brain.
If you have spinal stenosis, you may find that you can’t sit or stand for long periods because the nerves are irritated. Stenosis can cause pain, weakness, and numbness. It can even affect organs like the bladder or bowel, causing an overactive bladder, constipation, or diarrhea.
You can strain a muscle in many different ways. Repetitive motion, quick and sudden movements, sports, household chores, or an activity you are not used to doing. A muscle strain will irritate the muscles and tear them, causing a dull, achy pain. This pain is usually aggravated by movement, especially in the low back. An acute muscle strain may happen during a workout, a household chore, or a repetitive task that you have been doing for years.
One of the primary reasons for sciatica muscle strain is poor posture. If you spend all day sitting hunched over a computer or if you sleep on your stomach, you’re just asking for a muscle strain. Ignoring the strength of your core muscles will also predispose you to muscle strain. The core muscles – abs, obliques, lower back, and glutes – need to be balanced. When they’re not functioning in symmetry together, it will cause muscle strain.
Muscle strain usually resolves itself if left alone. Rest and ice are two ways to deal with a strain, but you typically want to address it immediately to ensure that it doesn’t develop into something worse. When you have muscle strain, it weakens those muscles, causing instability in the spine and nerve interference.
We often think we know what’s happening in our body, but a muscle strain can indicate many other things. It could be organ or nerve-related, so you want to make sure that you get to the bottom of it and fix it early so that it doesn’t develop into something more severe.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
15% to 30% of sciatica pain is caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The sacroiliac joint connects the hip bones to the sacrum to hold up and support the body. It also acts as a shock absorber between the upper and lower parts of the body. The SI joint is involved in everyday activities like walking, sitting, and standing. When there’s a misalignment of the sacroiliac, it puts strain on the ligaments and can cause a lot of discomfort. It can also cause leg length discrepancy and repeated stress on the hip, knee, ankle, and foot joints.
If you’re involved in sports or moving a lot throughout the day, you can stretch those ligaments and cause hypermobility – moving the joints beyond their normal range of motion, causing back pain. If you’re sedentary, you can develop hypomobility of the joints, limiting your ability to walk, bend, and twist.
SI joint dysfunction is also common among pregnant women. During the seventh month of pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin, which is supposed to relax the pelvic ligaments to create space for the baby to come out. When these ligaments stretch, they don’t function properly. This is why chiropractic adjustments are great to help women through the dynamic changes they go through in the last couple months of pregnancy.
Subluxations interfere with a person’s health. Most informed health professionals know that when the spine is out of position, it puts dangerous stress on the spinal nerves in the spinal cord, which is the intelligence pathway for your entire body. Not only can subluxations cause sciatica, neck pain, and back pain, but they can affect the proper functioning of the sinuses, thyroid, heart, lungs, digestion, bladder, etc. It’s not just a sore back, it’s the functioning of the entire body itself.
Three general categories could be the cause of a subluxation:
All these things cause misalignment in the spine and result in a lower state of health.
Chiropractors are the only healthcare providers trained to locate and correct subluxations. As chiropractors, we first look to see if the vertebrae are in the proper position. We look for proper movement to make sure there are no restrictions. Posture is the window to the spine, so if the posture is off, it means the spine is off. Nerve studies and nerve scans indicate where there is nerve interference and will alert us to a subluxation. We also take X-rays to show us where the spine is out of position.
Chiropractors know that you can’t stretch a subluxation out, you can’t massage it out, you can’t drug it out, you can’t cut it out. The only way to correct a subluxation is a specific chiropractic adjustment by a trained chiropractor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I see a doctor or chiropractor about sciatica?
Chiropractors specialize in working with your nervous system and the sciatic nerve, which, when irritated, causes sciatica. Seeing a chiropractor for a thorough evaluation and finding precisely where your sciatic nerve is compressed often results in much better results and drastic improvement.
Can stretching make sciatica worse?
Overstretching may further irritate the sciatic nerve. It is important to see a chiropractor who can identify and address the root cause of your sciatica, giving you custom stretches to ensure the best results.
How do I get my sciatic nerve to stop hurting?
The best way to stop your sciatic nerve pain is to have a thorough evaluation with a doctor. Chiropractors work naturally with your body without prescribing medication or surgery. Instead of masking the problem, we will pinpoint where your sciatic nerve is irritated and gently release pressure to restore optimal nerve flow.