It appears that the person suffering from sciatica is on the rise. Many of my patient’s either are presenting with sciatica or have had sciatica, commonly known as the “sciatic attack”. In my 27 years of being a therapist, I have seen hundreds if not thousands of cases. I really wanted to find a procedure to alleviate the symptoms of this painful condition. Through many trials and errors I believe I have found and developed a procedure that is not only helpful but can in most cases provide permanent relief. This is true even in stubborn cases of long duration.
Causes of Sciatica:
The most common cause of sciatica is pressure onto the nerve roots as they exit the low back, namely the L4, L5, and S1 nerve roots. The compression of these nerves is commonly from the intervertebral Discs (the disc between the vertebra). These discs in the low back often degrade as we age and are subject to injury or herniations. Sometimes as a result of lifting or twisting, a car accident or something as simple as a sneeze or a bowel movement. The pain resulting can be severe, but not necessarily so. The pain usually starts in the center of the low back or on top of the sacral bone (the triangular shape bone at the bottom of the spine). If the pain is local, but rather intense, it is probably a minor compression of the sciatic nerve. Often the pain begins to travel outwards into the gluteal area then progresses down the back side of the leg to the heel. Other times there is no back pain and just calf, heel and foot pain. Symptoms are highly variable depending on which nerve roots are being compressed and how much compression there is. Sciatica can also present with muscle weakness in the lower leg and foot . The foot may at times feel floppy and or weak. The hamstrings often are very tight and feel like they are going into an unrelenting spasm.
Firstly, the issues are how to take pressure off of the nerve roots and how to get the discs in proper alignment. I will attempt to explain how this can be done. When discs start to herniated the jelly like substance in the center of the discs (the nucleus pulposus) migrates backwards, which bulges the backside of the disc (annulus fibrosis). So in theory if you could move the nucleus towards the center or even the front end of the disc this would take pressure off or the nerve roots. By having a specially designed treatment table, I can perform this technique by gently backwardly bending the patient and applying traction to decompress the back, thus reducing the pressure on the nerve roots. As the pressure is reduced, the leg pain starts to resolve and the pain usually starts to retreat toward the back or up the leg. This is called centralization of symptoms. When the pain starts to centralize sometimes locally it can appear to be more intense. This is the brains’ interpretation of where the pain is coming from (the brain is tricking you).
Secondly, when there has been prolonged compression on a nerve (even slight pressure) the nerve begins to swell. As the nerve swells, the internal pressure in the nerve makes it difficult for the blood to enter to have proper nerve function. The increased internal pressure creates tissue hypoxia or tissue ischemia, which is lack of oxygen and blood. All tissue in the body needs oxygenated blood for proper function and health. So the second question is how do you get the nerve to decrease its’ internal pressure to allow for proper blood flow. So imagine if you will that this long nerve is like a wet towel full of water. How do you get the water out of the towel? You simply wring out the towel. That is exactly what you can do to the nerve. By doing certain nerve stretching techniques you can wring out the nerve.
By wringing or stretching the nerve, the water molecules exit the nerve due to its’ elastic properties. The internal pressure decreases thus allowing the micro circulation to return, and the healing process to commence.
After applying these techniques along with structural alignment, I have found that they can be effective in treating from mild to severe cases of sciatica.
The body has an amazing ability to heal, but sometimes needs a little help along the way.
Nerve mobilization techniques well described, founded, and authored by Dr. David S. Butler and Dr. David Camillis.
-Mike Dixon RMT, College Orthopaedic Instructor.
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