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Sciatica: There Are Real Answers

headshot yurikoimushuku"It isn't an exaggeration to say that I thought I would be wheelchair bound and would never be back on my feet the rest of my life. The pain in my right leg was that severe. ...One day in the summer of 2007, I noticed that some numbness and tingling pain in my right leg just did not go away. Not only that, it became worse and worse. When I walked a little, the pain in the back of my thigh down to the outside of my right calf to ankle got so severe, I had to stop, sit down, and wait until the pain subsided. The distance between the rests got shorter and shorter to finally down to 10 steps. It was the worst kind of pain that I have felt, so intense it was like poking my brain with a needle...I became chair-bound.

He (Dr. Morris) gave me a thorough examination, asked me a hundred questions, and ordered an MRI to confirm his diagnosis...A little over 3 months later, I am writing this to let the world know that my pain level is a humble 1 out of 10 (10 is the most severe)! When I first met Dr. Morris, my pain level was easily over 8.

I can now walk with my friends in a shopping mall, do grocery shopping, and will be back in my dance class soon.  All these were unimaginable 3 months ago. If anyone is in the same condition as I was then, I know how it feels. And I am very fortunate that I met Dr. Morris and his great team of professionals. Thank you and I hope there will be more patients like myself who find you and your incredible practice."
-- Yuriko Imashuku, Language Instructor*

Click Letters and Videos From Our Patients to learn from other patients who have suffered with and know the most about life with these conditions.

 

If You Have Sciatica, You'll Want To Know This

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The Sciatic Nerve is the largest nerve in your body (as you probably can tell from the pain your feeling down your leg right now!). It leaves between the vertebrae in your lower back, travels through a group of muscles in your buttocks, and can refer pain down the back of your thigh and all the way to your foot. When this nerve is irritated we call it Sciatica.  It usually starts from an injury to your lower back (usually L4 thru S1) and is worse when you're bending over, running or sitting. 

 

If your leg pain is worse with standing and walking and relieved by bringing your knees to your chest, it's often due to Spinal Stenosis. If it's worse with sitting, it's often caused by a herniated or damaged disc. Occasionally the nerve is trapped by the muscles in your buttocks and sometimes, in more difficult cases, two or more causes are occurring at the same time.

In the picture above, notice the Sciatic Nerve leaving under the Piriformis Muscle. The Gluteal Muscles lie on top of the Piriformis Muscle. Either can squeeze the sciatic nerve and are often overlooked. In fact, when the Piriformis Muscle compresses the Sciatic Nerve (as shown in the picture on the left), it's called a Piriformis Syndrome. Treatment to elongate the spastic or shortened muscle away from the nerve is very effective and responds, when properly done, quite quickly.

Minor cases of Sciatica are often treated effectively with gentle stretching and routine Chiropractic or Physical Therapy approaches.  But, complex and severe cases often require a more detailed exam and treatment approach..  Obviously, surgery should be your very last treatment option and often carry significant side effects. 

The Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center treat the most difficult and resistant cases of Sciatica.  Please see us if your pain has gone on for over two months, is especially severe or is accompanied by numbness, tingling or weakness to either of your legs or when surgery has been recommended to you.  Most of our patients have been told that surgery was their best or only option. We've usually determined that wasn't the case. When it is, we work with excellent surgeons, but our job is to try and avoid high risk methods when other approaches will work that are safer and more effective. This is not an exaggerated statement. Please see the research performed at our office that supports this claim.

How Should Difficult Cases of Sciatica Be Treated?

Sciatica is often caused by the lower back vertebrae moving slightly out of alignment due to a fall, asymmetrical postures or a minor structural fault from birth (often missed by most doctors) that pinches the Sciatic Nerve directly or by causing the nearby disc to herniate or bulge into it.

As we said earlier, many cases of Sciatica respond well to physical therapy, chiropractic, and rest, but of course there are cases when this isn't enough. The spinal adjustments need to be more exact, the exercises more specific to your asymmetry, the disc may need to be non-surgically decompressed and the congenital fault may need to be addressed with a heel lift or asymmetrical posture to correct it.  

sciatica02This is a side view of your low back. Notice the Sciatic Nerve travelling through the "normal canal" on the left.  The narrowed canal on the right is much smaller and is far more likely to irritate the Sciatic Nerve, which travels through it. Spinal misalignments and muscular asymmetry can narrow this canal, irritate the sciatic nerve (even damage it) and lead to Sciatica. Careful and deliberate treatment must be designed, in difficult cases, to restore its proper position and size. The Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center is unmatched at finding the exact structural cause and answer to this problem.

As mentioned earlier, a "Double Crush" of the Sciatic nerve occurs when it is compressed in more than one place. These cases will only partially resolve when only one of the sites of compression have been treated. These are the types of cases that may need to come to our center to be fully helped. 

What About Disc Herniations, Disc Degeneration and Synovial Cysts? How Do They Cause Sciatica and How Can I Treat It?

Discs are fibrous shock absorbers and spacers between each spinal segment.  If they weaken, often due to injury or asymmetry, they can tear or bulge into the nearby nerve.  If it's in your lower back, between L4 and S1, it will commonly compress the Sciatic Nerve and shoot pain and/or numbness to the back of your thigh, below your knee and/or possibly to your foot. It may cause weakness in your leg as well.

disc circulationWe've learned that many and possibly most cases of disc herniations are associated with poor blood circulation to the disc.  It's visible on MRI as shown in the picture to your left.  Notice that the two highest discs are light gray, while the lowest one is quite dark (the darker the color, the poorer the circulation.  This makes it far easier for your disc to herniate and degenerate.

 

Often my patients believe the awkward bend or sudden twist that precipitated their pain was the cause of their disc problem. That isn't usually the case.  We've learned that most typically, the disc has steadily been degenerating for many years before that fairly modest move which we've probably done several times before, actually "throws-out" our back, making us seek an MRI that reveals the herniated disc.  Of course, a significant trauma can start your disc problem, especially if not properly and thoroughly treated. 

sciatica03Low back x-rays showing a normal disc and one with advanced  degeneration (appears as a narrowed disc). Disc degeneration causes back pain, leads to disc herniations and narrows the canal from which the Sciatic Nerve exits.

Of course there are other causes of Sciatica, which are less commonly seen, such as a Synovial Cyst. These usually respond to non-surgical approaches as well. Click here to find answers for Synovial Cysts.

As we stated earlier, regardless of the cause, we treat the most severe, difficult cases of Sciatica with the highest levels of success reported in the medical literature. If you have signs of nerve damage:  numbness, leg or foot weakness or pain that continues down your leg below your knee, if your pain is severe and lasting more than six to eight weeks or if you've been told you need surgery, please call us today at 310-451-5851.

 

 


 

 

For Further Information:

Click here to learn about our non-surgical decompression program with the DRX 9000.

Click here to learn to find treatment answers for disc herniation and degeneration.

Click here to learn more about The Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center.

*Research that supports our opinions, facts and claims can be seen at http://www.spinalstenosisanddisc.com/research.html Of course individual results may vary.

 

To Get Help For Your Sciatica Right Now:

Schedule an appointment with our office by calling (310) 451-5851, contact us by E-Mail or click here for a free on-line consultation with our doctors.