Home Blog Back to the Basics: Decoding Low Back and Leg Pain – Unraveling the Mystery of Sciatica

Back to the Basics: Decoding Low Back and Leg Pain – Unraveling the Mystery of Sciatica

Dec 8, 2023 -- Posted by : Dr.Harcourt

Low back pain (LBP) can be localized and contained to only the low back area or it can radiate pain down the leg. This distinction is important as the former, LBP only, is often less complicated and carries a more favorable prognosis for complete recovery. In fact, a large part of the history and examination when you seek treatment for back pain is focused on this differentiation. This month’s article will look at the different types of leg pain that can occur with different LBP conditions.

The term "sciatica" is commonly used to describe various sources of low back pain (LBP), including issues with the joints, sacroiliac joint, muscles in the low back, and pinched nerves caused by a ruptured disk. However, strictly speaking, "sciatica" should only be employed when the sciatic nerve is specifically pinched. The sciatic nerve comprises five smaller nerves (L4, L5, S1, S2, S3) originating from the spine and converging to form one large nerve (approximately the size of our pinky) known as the sciatic nerve—a convergence akin to five small rivers merging into one substantial river.

Sciatica occurs when any of the small nerves (L4-S3) or the sciatic nerve itself becomes compressed or irritated. This compression can result from various causes, including lumbar disk herniation, mis-positioned vertebrae (such as spondylolisthesis), pressure from an arthritic spur off the spine ("spinal stenosis"), or a tumor near or around the nerve. "Pseudosciatica," referring to non-disk causes, encompasses instances like a pinch from the piriformis muscle in the buttocks (commonly termed "wallet sciatica" due to sitting on a wallet in the back pocket). In these cases, "peripheral neuropathy" is a more accurate term. Other "pseudosciatic" causes include referred pain from facet joints or metabolic conditions like diabetes affecting the nerve, where "neuropathy" is a fitting label.

Direct trauma, such as a bruise to the buttocks or nerve impact during a buttock injection, can also trigger "sciatica." Symptoms include low back pain, buttocks pain, pain in the back of the thigh, calf, and/or foot, along with numbness and tingling. Severe compression may lead to muscle weakness, making it challenging to stand on tiptoes and resulting in a limp while walking.

In a clinical setting, diagnostic tests involve raising a straightened leg to detect sharp pain if there's a pinched nerve. Bending the spine backward can alleviate pain caused by a herniated disk, providing a diagnostic clue. Chiropractic methods offer a non-surgical solution to address sciatica, offering an alternative to unnecessary surgery. It's advisable to consult with a chiropractor before considering surgical options.

So, if you are interested in no longer chasing your tail on the pain gerbil wheel and type in pain management near me or chiropractor near me, you may find Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up. 

You may wonder, “Is There a Better Way to Address Actually Fixing the Cause of the Pain?”

Once you have experienced the frustration of simply covering over the pain temporarily, you may be more enlightened to the idea of fixing the problem and then keep it that way. Some around you say one description of such an approach is called wellness care.


Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at Coast Chiropractic Centers at (239) 278-3344 or stop by on your day off if we’re near you for a walk in visit and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or Class IV high-intensity laser treatment. So if you find yourself experiencing lower back pain while running or doing physical activities.

If you feel like a gerbil on a perpetual pain wheel and you know it is negatively affecting your quality of life and keeping you from enjoying walks at Fort Myers Beach, playing golf, tennis, pickle ball or others, come see us at Coast Chiropractic Centers located on 7270 College Parkway. 

Schedule Your Appointment Here

Coast Chiropractic Centers Map

If you would like to avoid getting back pain in the first place or to take a proactive approach to your health and wellness nearby, our membership program called Club C may be just the thing for you with great cost savings, convenience, and even more importantly, a plan to get your health back and keep it.

Don't let back pain stop you from enjoying the beautiful SWFL!  Dr. Tim Harcourt is here to give you the relief you need. 


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