Sciatica is one of those persistent problems that’s broadly prevalent in patients suffering from lumbar ailments. Because of the prominence of the sciatic nerve, nearly any lumbar condition has the ability to disturb it, leading to chronic nerve pain. Diagnosing it isn’t difficult, and for many chiropractors, it starts by looking at the lumbosacral joint (L5-S1).
As is the case for most lumbar conditions, it’s best to start the investigation from the bottom and work your way up. The lumbosacral joint is a prime area of sciatic intervention because of its proximity to a broad range of nerve bundles and at-risk discs. If sciatic nerve issues are going to develop, odds are the problem will start (or at least intersect) this region of the lumbar spine.
At Ideal Spine, we stress an informed, tactile approach to investigating sciatic nerve pain. Starting at the lumbosacral joint can yield tremendous insight into the nature of radiating pain in the lower back and legs.
Why investigate the lumbosacral joint first?
As mentioned, the lumbosacral joint features the most common denominators for sciatic nerve interference. This makes it a natural starting point for diagnosis. Some of the features that make it ground zero for sciatic pain include:
- The L5 vertebrae is prone to forward slippage over the connecting S1 vertebrae. The sciatic nerve passes through this segment, which means it’s prone to compression.
- Similarly, disc herniation or inflammation in this region will also stress the sciatic nerve bundle.
- Deterioration of lumbosacral facet joints is common (especially with age), which can lead to nerve compression that irritates the sciatic nerve.
- Other conditions such as piriformis syndrome generally affect the area around the lumbosacral joint, causing nerve compression and general inflammation.
The natural biomechanics surrounding the lumbosacral joint make it a frequently-used, often-stressed joint. Everything from overuse to poor posture trickles down to this lowest region of the lumbar spine, meaning it bears much of the brunt. And, because of its proximity to the sciatic nerve, this is generally one of the first systems affected.
Affiliation with other conditions
Beyond subluxations and inflammation, the lumbosacral joint also experiences problems borne of chronic conditions – most of which involve some form of sciatic pain as a symptom:
- Degenerative disc disease;
- Lumbar stenosis;
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
Remember, sciatica is a condition in its own right, but more often, it’s a symptom of another condition’s effect on the sciatic nerve. As spinal conditions like the above grow more severe, they’ll bring undue stress and strain to the lumbosacral joint and, by affiliation, the sciatic nerve. Working backwards from sciatic pain and investigating the lumbosacral joint may actually yield insight into these conditions.
Knowing where to start is half the battle of diagnosis
The key to robust treatment and a sound Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach is an accurate diagnosis. Being able to affiliate symptoms with conditions and having an idea of the origin of certain types of pain often aids in more rapid diagnosis. For patients with chronic sciatica, lumbosacral joint investigation should be at the top of the list.
Ideal Spine not only encourages our chiropractors to thoroughly investigate pain back to the source, but to use imaging and other diagnostic tools to test the hypotheses of palpation and observation. When it comes to investigating sciatica, the lumbosacral joint is an obvious point of first contact.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.