Sciatica can range from mild to severe. Most individuals are familiar with severe cases because of the intense shooting throbbing pain. On the other hand, mild cases can present with little to no discomfort or pain but involve tingling, pins and needles, electrical buzzing, and numbing sensations. This can make individuals think there is nothing wrong and their foot just fell asleep. It can come from nowhere, as there was no obvious back or leg trauma causing injury. However, somewhere along the nerve’s path, the nerve has become compressed, pinched, trapped, stuck, or twisted, most likely from a spasming muscle group in the low back, buttocks, or legs causing the sciatica foot symptoms. Chiropractic, massage, and decompression therapy can relax the muscles, relieve the symptoms, release the nerve, and restore function.
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Sciatica Foot Symptoms
The sciatic nerve extends from the lower spine to the feet. Sciatica foot symptoms could be caused by several possibilities that range from piriformis syndrome to a developing slipped disc or spasming muscles. The symptoms travel through the nerve and can be felt anywhere along the nerve’s path, not necessarily at the source. This is why mild cases may only present with slight pricking/tingling sensations. However, left untreated, the cause can progress and develop into a severe case of sciatica.
The length of time that sciatica foot symptoms last will depend on the underlying cause. For example, if a herniated disc is the cause, the numbness may last for a few weeks or months until the disc heals. However, the numbness may be more long-lasting if sciatica is caused by degenerative disc disease. Sometimes, the nerve can be permanently damaged, leading to chronic pain and numbness. This is more likely to occur in individuals with diabetes or another condition that causes nerve damage.
- A varying degree of leg weakness can present as the spinal nerve root issues interfere with effective signal communication between the brain and the leg muscles.
- Leg weakness may also be interpreted as a pulling sensation in the leg.
- Weakness in the foot or toe muscles can also present.
- Leg movements such as walking, running, lifting the leg, or flexing the foot can also be affected.
- The tingling and numbing sensations may worsen when sitting or standing for long periods or moving the back in certain ways.
Chiropractic care is an excellent option for treating sciatica foot symptoms and starts with a personalized plan based on individual symptoms, injury, and medical history. Chiropractors are neuromusculoskeletal experts on the spine, vertebrae, surrounding muscles, tissues, and nerves. Treatment includes spinal and extremity adjustments to realign the body, decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, release the nerve, and ultimately allow the body to activate its natural healing processes.
- Massage therapy can relieve muscle tension and spasms in the back and legs, reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Massage also increases blood circulation and relaxes the muscles, speeding healing and recovery.
- Electrical stimulation activates the nerves and muscles and reduces symptoms by blocking signals.
- Physical therapy exercises can help stretch and strengthen the back and leg muscles.
- Targeted exercises can be done at home to continue strengthening and maintaining the muscles.
- Using orthotic devices such as arch supports or heel cups can help relieve pressure on the feet.
- Arch supports are especially helpful if sciatica foot symptoms are exacerbated by flat feet or other foot conditions.
- Heel cups can help with the frequent use of high heels.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Sciatica.” orthoinfo.org/en/diseases–conditions/sciatica/
Cleveland Clinic. “Sciatica.” my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12792-sciatica#management-and-treatment
Emary, Peter C. “Evidence-based prognostication in a case of sciatica.” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association vol. 59,1 (2015): 24-9.
Frost, Lydia R et al. “Deficits in foot skin sensation are related to alterations in balance control in chronic low back patients experiencing clinical signs of lumbar nerve root impingement.” Gait & posture vol. 41,4 (2015): 923-8. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.03.345
Mayo Clinic. “Sciatica.” www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sciatica/symptoms-causes/syc-20377435?p=1
National Institutes of Health. “Sciatica.” medlineplus.gov/sciatica.html
Shakeel, Muhammad, et al. “An uncommon cause of sciatica.” Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons–Pakistan: JCPSP vol. 19,2 (2009): 127-9.
Tampin, Brigitte, et al. “Disentangling ‘sciatica’ to understand and characterize somatosensory profiles and potential pain mechanisms.” Scandinavian journal of pain vol. 22,1 48-58. 2 Aug. 2021, doi:10.1515/sjpain-2021-0058
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