Sciatica, leg pain and Chiropractic

Sciatica is a common complaint of patients seeking Chiropractic care. The word sciatica is a term for all pain that radiates down the back of the leg regardless of whether it is associated with lower back pain. The pain can be referred from the back along the thigh to the foot and toe. On the other hand, sciatica can be caused by referred pain that radiates from the foot upwards. In some cases of sciatica trigger points in the lower back can initiate pain in the leg. The compression of the trigger points in the lower back can trigger the sciatica.
Often disc herniations are credited with causing most sciatica other causes exist. Other causes can include sprains of the lower back and sacro-iliac joints, degenerative disc disease. Rarer conditions can involve the kidneys, prostate and circulatory system.
The most common orthopedic test used by Chiropractors to determine if sciatica is caused by disc herniation is the straight leg raising test. The straight leg raise test stretches the nerve roots of the lower back. If a disc is herniated it can impinge on the nerve roots as they are stretched.
Dr. Tom Etter is a Chiropractor with over ten years of practice experience. His Chiropractic practice focus is back pain, neck pain, sports injuries and acupuncture. Dr. Etter’s Chiropractic practice is located at 112th and Strangline and serves Olathe, Kansas, Lenexa, Kansas and Overland Park, Kansas.

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Disc problems and Chiropractic care

Back injuries that cause herniations in the discs of the lower back are the most common in younger men. Pain in the back can develop immediately after lifting a heavy weight or moving in an akward fashion. The most common position for the back that results in injury is bending forward while twisting. Back injuries of this type can cause pain severe enough to cause the back to lock with the pain. The pain may also radiate down the leg (sciatica). Usually lying down can relieve some of the pain and is the most tolerable position.
The guidelines for Chiropractic care for back injuries recommend that persons with a disc problem undergo conservative care (including Chiropractic) for three weeks. If no relief is obtained through conservative means then further imagining via MRI is recommended. Most often a Chiropractic care plan of two to three Chiropractic treatments a week for three weeks is recommended. Ice is often helpful and heat should be avoided for at least the first week of a back injury. Walking is often the most easliy performed exercise and helps with pain reduction and mobility of the joints. Riding in a car or sitting for long periods is usually counterproductive in the initial stages of a back injury. Once the pain has become manageable gym ball exercises may be helpful. Specialized Chiropractic tables called lumbar flexion distraction tables are specifically designed to apply traction to the lumbar disc and reduce pain.
Dr. Tom Etter is a Chiropractor with over ten years practice experience in Olathe, Kansas and Lenexa, Kansas. His Chiropractic practice focus is back pain, neck pain, and sports injuries.
Many individuals can find relief of back pain through acupuncture as well. A combination of needle acupuncture and electronic stimulation is often effective for lower back pain.

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Functional Scoliosis, back pain and Chiropractic

Many patients seeking Chiropractic care for lower back pain are concerned that they are not “straight” or are standing at an angle. Standing crooked is known as an antalgic lean and is the body’s attempt to move away from painful joints and discs. Usually an antalgic lean is caused by spasm of the back muscles and involves a strain of the facet joints or disc problem.
Often if the back pain is due to strain of the facet joints and the disc the person will bend forward at the waist. Strains of the hip flexors also can cause a person to stand in a forward bending or flexed posture.
Spasm of the piriformis muscle in the buttocks is a common cause of pain in the buttocks and can occur gradually.
The piriformis muscle can entrap the sciatic nerve causing sciatica. The pain from piriformis entrapment of the sciatic nerve in the buttocks can radiate down the thigh, the outside of the leg and into the sole of the foot.
Dr. Tom Etter is a Chiropractor with over ten years of experience. His Chiropractic practice focus is back pain, neck pain, and sports injuries.

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Lower back injuries and the Disc, Chiropractic

It has been estimated that disc problems account for 30-40% of cases of back pain seen by Chiropractors. Disc problems can be difficult to diagnose and can produce the same type of back pain as seen in other conditions. In the diagnosis of a herniated disc the most effective diagnostic tool is the MRI. MRI is generally undertaken only for people who have not been able to get relief after 20-40 days of conservative measures (including Chiropractic care). Pain into the leg (sciatica) is often a sign of a disc problem but may also be present in facet syndrome or sacro-iliac joint conditions. The most useful diagnostic test used by Chiropractors in diagnosis of disc conditions is the straight leg raising test. The straight leg raising test stretches the nerve roots to determine if the bulging disc is causing pressure on the nerve root.
Most often disc injuries result from lifting a weight while bent at the waist. Bending at the waist causes the disc to bulge in the rear portion which is the weakest and has the least resistance to rupture. Disc herniations can cause immediate lower back pain which can regress over several weeks. The general trend is for the herniated disc material to grow in size over time. Many disc herniations are years in the making and may also go undetected for many years.
Most all disc herniations treated by Chiropractors involve the lowest two disc of the lumbar spine. If the lowest disc herniates the pain generally involves the back of the thigh, knee, calf, heel and side of the foot to the little toe.
Disc herniations higher in the back produce different locations of pain as a general rule.
Dr. Tom Etter is a Chiropractor with over ten years of practice experience. His Chiropractic practice focus is back pain, neck pain, sports injuries, and whiplash.

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More on the disc and back pain, Chiropractic topics

Disc herniations are estimated to account for about 30-40% of cases of back pain seen by Chiropractors. Disc problems can cause bouts of intense lower back pain but also may cause long term degenerative changes in the spine. A disc that has experienced a herniation is less able to withstand the stress of daily life and movements associated with work and sports. The long term result of a disc herniation is often to put more stress on the joints (especially the facet joints). Increasing the load on the joints may cause the articular cartilage to degererate faster. Traction spurs may also develop. Changes in the shapes of the vertebrae may also lead to stenosis. Disc material that squirts into the spinal canal is often responsible for causing stenosis as well. Stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces for the nerves in the spinal canal. Some people have a much larger spinal canal genetically and are much less effected that others with a smaller spinal canal. True stenosis can be a difficult condition to treat with success rates for Chiropractic care estimated to be about 33%. Flexion exercises on a gym ball that stress flexion of the spine may be helpfull as well. Changes in the spine as a person ages can occur to most everyone but not everyone suffers from significant impairment or pain. It is said the size of the spinal canal a person is born with is one of the most important factors in lower back pain/ stenosis later in life. If the spinal canal is small the nerves have much less space to move and bone spurs, thickened joints and scar tissue are able to impinge on the nerves and cause stenosis.
Dr. Tom Etter is a Chiropractor in Lenexa, Kansas. The focus of his Chiropractic practice is the treatment of lower back pain, neck pain, whiplash and sports injuries.

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