Thursday, March 31, 2011

Do I Have Sciatica?

When it comes to lower back pain, there a couple of “buzz words” that you often hear in connection (I hesitate to use the expression “buzz words” because it sounds sort of dismissive). Sciatica is definitely one of those words. It feels like one of those words you might hear in a movie like Grumpy Old Men - “I got a pinched sciatica that’d make your lumbago look like eye strain,” says Jack Lemon to Walter Matthau. It’s a great line, but guess what? it’s not very medically accurate. I know, surprise, surprise, Hollywood gets it wrong, but in this case it’s important to make it clear what exactly sciatica is so you can figure out what’s causing your back, leg or hip pain.

So back to the quote, let’s take it apart a little. First, you can’t pinch your sciatica. Sciatica isn’t a thing - it’s a set of symptoms. Basically, that means that you can’t “have” sciatica, but you can display sciatica symptoms. Sciatica is really a word used to describe a set of symptoms such as:

  • lower back pain

  • leg pain

  • burning sensation

  • loss of sensation

  • tingling

  • numbness

  • muscle weakness

The quote also mentions “lumbago” which is another broad term that essentially just means lower back pain, so in fact, that “pinched sciatica” could also have had lumbago as one of its symptoms!

Now that we know what sciatica really is, we can move on. If you experience some of the symptoms that fall under sciatica, it’s commonly associated with spinal disc related problems like herniation (also called prolapse) or bulges. The spinal discs that separate the vertebrae in the lower back tend to weaken with age and, when out of place, can press on the nerve roots as they exit the spinal canal. This compression leads to inflammation, irritation and potentially significant pain. In severe cases, loss of sensation and muscle wasting can occur. Basically, sciatica is pretty serious and requires a long term approach because discs have very little blood supply with which to heal.

For problems like sciatica, Living Well Medical in NYC focuses on the non-surgical side of care; spinal decompression, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, massage therapy, Active Release Technique and a number of other treatments are available at our office, and by combining them, getting the right kind of help for chronic back pain is within reach. We can help you stop the pain if you need help - call today at 212-645-8151.

- Dr. Shoshany, NYC Chiropractor

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Can Cervical Stenosis Occour Alongside Lumbar Stenosis

Stenosis simply means "narrowing of", specifically "Spinal Stenosis" is the narrowing of the middle spinal column, which runs vertically, holding the central nervous system inside it, providing protection to this vital sensory system. "Foreaminal Spinal Stenosis" is the narrowing of the horizontal openings in the spine, through which the peripheral nervous system branches out. In either case, spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal columns, which puts pressure on the nervous system and causes interference, which often results in pain.

Patients who suffer from cervical spondylititic myelopathy, complain of neck pain, unsteadiness on their feet, difficulty walking, numbness paresthesias, and a loss of dexterity in the upper extremities are common. Radicular symptoms can also be caused by coexisting compression of nerve roots in the cervical spine. Bladder control can also be an issue, but it is less prominent.

It can be common to have lumbar stenosis along with cervical spondylitic myleopathy, so there should be a careful evaluation of the patient to rule out the coexistence of both conditions.

At Living Well Medical, we have treated many cases of spinal stenosis, it is very important for long term quality of life for the patient that coexisting conditions be ruled out and an integrated, individualized treatment plan be implemented to speed recovery and cause minimal disruption to the patient's lifestyle and hobbies.