Sciatica is no joke: the symptoms associated with sciatic nerve compression include stiffness and pain in the lower back and buttocks, tingling in numbness in the lower extremities, hip pain and weakness in the leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body and influences many of the muscles on the backside of the lower body. The causes of sciatica are many and varied, including herniated disc and subluxation, degenerative bone disease, piriformis syndrome and even general instability in the sacral and lumbar regions of the spine. Chiropractic is an excellent modality for responding to sciatica because through hands-on adjustment and trigger point therapy we can release the tension and tightness from muscles that may be contributing to irritation of the sciatic nerve. Spinal traction and the associated decompression is good for alleviating the pain and impingement associated with nerve pain from herniated discs.
No matter the cause of your sciatica, almost everyone can benefit from basic strengthening and stretching in the lower back. Simple stretches that can be done from the bedroom, but will make a world of difference in your suffering from sciatica include:
- Knee to chest: simple, lay on your back with knees elevated and feet flat. Pull one leg up toward your chest and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat twice with each leg.
- Piriformis stretch (of which there are multiple varieties).
- Creating a 4: Lay on your back with legs elevated and feet flat. Cross your right ankle over the left knee and clasp your hands behind the left knee. Pull your left leg up toward your chest whilc pressing the opposite direction with your right leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds then repeat with the other leg.
- Stretching the hip flexor: start in kneeling position with left leg down. Place hands on right knee and lean into it, you should feel a stretch in the hips and the hamstrings. Hold this position for 15 seconds then repeat with the other leg.
While sciatica is not entirely avoidable, it can be eased by dilligent stretching. Try doing these simple stretches once in the morning and once before bed and feel the tension float away. If you are in too much pain to perform even these motions, it may be time to talk to a health professional about determining the root of your pain; our ears are always open at Community Chiropractic & Acupuncture of Park Slope.
Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.