Sciatica. What is it really?

Dr Leisa

Sciatica is a condition that is often misdiagnosed and attributed to any intense lower back pain. Any pain in the lower back that limits your movement or stops you from enjoying life requires attention, but not all lower back pain is sciatic pain.

This type of pain is unique and while it can be debilitating, it can be helped. I’ve been successfully diagnosing and treating sciatica for 27 years and have found that many patients think they have it but use the term to unknowingly describe other back conditions, including serious disc conditions I wrote about in my last article.

Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back, downward through your buttocks, and into the back of each leg. It is the longest nerve in your body and the widest, controlling the muscles in your lower legs. It also provides sensation to your legs and soles of your feet. The sciatic nerve also goes to the groin, to the knees, and to the hips as well. When a patient feels pain in any of these areas, their doctor frequently x-rays those areas. Once they see the report, no specific condition in those areas is found. This leaves the patient frustrated and confused. They know they have pain in one or all of those areas, but now they are told everything is normal.

This happens because the pain is coming for their lower back. I’ve even received referrals from podiatrists, because the doctor examined and x-rayed the foot, and found nothing wrong. They then refer the patient to me, as they realize the pain is most likely coming from the lumbar spine. When someone suffers from sciatica it means they feel persistent pain along their sciatic nerve.

Besides sharp pain, sciatica sufferers may experience dull aches, tingling, numbness, or even a burning sensation. The pain and other feelings are typically felt on just one side of the body. People between 30 and 50 are most likely to suffer from sciatica, and the symptoms are usually attributed to basic wear and tear rather than a specific injury. Sciatic pain often gets worse after prolonged sitting, physical activity, sneezing, coughing, or other sudden movements.

People suffering from intense sciatic pain will often try just about anything to make it go away, but the problem with many conventional treatments is that they simply mask the symptoms with pain medication or muscle relaxants. Some patients start digging into the point of pain with a golf ball, or even leaning into a doorknob. That, by the way, it the worst thing to do, as you’re just making the nerve more inflamed. I will work to find the cause of your pain, and if it is determined to be sciatica, treatment will begin to relieve some of the pressure on the nerve.

Many patients prefer Cox chiropractic treatments because it is completely non-invasive and drug-free. It is also a very effective, yet gentle method that does not further irritate the sciatic nerve. People tend to be wary of more invasive treatments where their spine is concerned. And most people figure out quickly that taking pain medications is only covering up a symptom, and not really getting to the heart of the issue.

Of course, you can always help yourself when it comes to lower back pain. Sciatica can’t always be prevented, but if you work to maintain a healthy weight, watch your posture, avoid prolonged periods of sitting, use proper lifting technique, and exercise regularly you’ll be giving yourself a good head start. These tips, combined with natural treatments from myself, the naturopath, and nurse practitioner on my team, will help make your sciatic pain a thing of the past.

If you or anyone you know suffers from burning, tingling, or numbness from your lower back, please call my office for an appointment. This way, I can find out what’s really causing it, and you can stop leaning into that doorknob!

For any questions regarding my articles, please email me at
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Chiropractic Physician
Accurate Care Medical Wellness Center
18261 N Pima Rd. Ste # 115
Scottsdale, AZ 85255