Sciatica is a term people often use to describe all manners of pain, numbness or tingling down the leg. In medical terms, sciatica refers to symptoms that result from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. There are many other issues that mimic sciatic nerve compression, but are actually completely different conditions. Some common examples of conditions that mimic sciatica include disc issues, muscle strains, arthritis and peripheral nerve entrapment.
Successful treatment of sciatica and sciatica-like conditions hinges on proper diagnosis. Sciatica is often caused by spasm of the piriformis muscle resulting in piriformis syndrome. Spasm of this muscle can also cause asymmetric forces through the sacroiliac joint resulting in sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Sciatica treatment, piriformis syndrome treatment and sacroiliac joint treatment involve restoring the proper muscle activation pattern through corrective stretches, soft tissue massage and gentle adjustments.
"I had difficulty walking far without a tingling sensation and periodic pain in my legs. After several treatments with Dr. Ward, I was actually able to slowly begin jogging again."
Another structure that can cause sciatica symptoms is the sacroiliac joint, also referred to as the SI joint. Located in the pelvis, the SI joint helps transfer forces from the back to the hips and pelvis. There are two SI joints on either side of the pelvis, and while only a small amount of movement occurs at these joints, these movements are vital for proper hip and back function.
Over time, these joints can become “fixated” or stuck in place. This lack of motion can irritate the sciatic nerve. Alternatively, a fixated SI joint can cause muscle spasms and a pain pattern similar to true sciatica pain. Dr. Ward uses a technique called motion palpation to assess proper SI joint function. Dr. Ward is one of only a handful of providers in Virginia that are certified in this particular technique: http://www.motionpalpation.org/virgina/. Motion palpation, as well as other techniques such as nerve flossing and glute activation exercises, are used in combination to provide relief from SI joint dysfunction.
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