Radiating Leg Pain and Chiropractic Care
When dealing with back pain that radiates down the back of your leg, it may be necessary to visit with a professional. This type of pain can involve nerve damage or even a herniated disc. This type of radiating pain can also be termed sciatica, which involves irritation, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve that travels from the lower back all the way down the leg below the knee. If it is sciatic pain, it is usually only experienced in one leg. Finding the proper course of treatment is imperative to keep a healthy and active lifestyle.
Radiating pain can occur in the leg due to an injury where the leg is damaged. Other injuries could be due to a herniated disc or a disc protrusion. A herniated disc, is where the gelatinous material inside the disc extrudes from the disc and can come into contact with the spinal nerve where it exits from the spine. A disc protrusion (or disc bulge, as seen in the image above) is less severe; basically fibers inside the disc tear, and allow the gelatinous material to move closer to the edge of the disc and bulge. This bulging, may cause pressure on the nerve root as well. This contact or pressure can cause pain and even numbness in one or both legs.
Another source of an injury involves regular wear and tear. Repetitive motion or highly aggressive physical activities, like contact sports, can cause the discs in the spine to break down or degenerate causing a decrease in the disc space (space between the vertebrae). Muscles can also compress the sciatic nerve, causing pain and damage. This is most commonly due to spasm of the piriformis muscle, called piriformis syndrome. That’s because the sciatic nerve travels below this muscle (see chart on left).
Arachnoiditis is a severe condition that is caused by the membrane that covers the spinal nerves becoming inflamed due to injury, dye from myelograms, surgery, or infection. This can mimic disc problems, and can cause pain or tingling down the leg. For this condition, we would refer you to the appropriate specialist.
The typical treatment used for lower back and leg pain involves anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication. These prescription drugs can help reduce the inflammation being caused by damage to nerves in the leg area. However, this may only dull the pain and does not correct the cause of the problem. It can also cause cross-reactions with other medications you may be taking. Pain medications can also become addictive and can interact with other medications you may be prescribed. A more severe treatment may involve steroid injections to decrease inflammation at the site. The last resort if pain is not managed or improved involves surgery, which is usually not the answer to pain relief. Surgery can be an issue, as it may limit motion and movement that can be experienced by the patient. Please note, there are times that surgery is necessary, and we will refer you to a neurosurgeon if we think that is the best course of treatment. Dr Spitz has actually had back surgery for a herniated disc in his low back, so he does know that surgery can be the only option, depending on the problem.
Chiropractic Care for Treating Leg Pain
Chiropractic care is a safe, non-invasive treatment option for those who are suffering from radiating leg pain. The first step is performing a complete orthopedic, neurologic and chiropractic examination. In addition, we may refer you for x-rays or an MRI. One of our doctors will then create a customized treatment plan that addresses all aspects of your health. Chiropractic adjustments and lifestyle changes may be one of the first steps of the treatment plan. Once the plan is put in motion, the progress will be monitored for success. If there is minimal improvement, the chiropractor may decide to add in other forms of treatment, including home exercises, electronic stimulation of the muscles and ice or heat packs. The goal is to have the you, the patient feeling improvement without the need for medication or surgery.
Dr. David Spitz and Dr. Astrid Baldrich are local expert chiropractors with an office in the Bristol, Connecticut. They can help alleviate back and radiating leg pain or they will refer you to the appropriate specialist. To make an appointment, call now at 860-583-4346 or click the Request Appointment link below.