Sciatica is a common type of back pain, as well as pain, tingling, and even weakness in your legs. Most people associate sciatica with repetitive bending and lifting or other strenuous activities — and that’s certainly a common cause. But sciatica can also be caused by bone spurs.
At Easy Reach Chiropractic, Barbara Adonis, DC, and Heather Previll, PT, DPT, customize sciatica treatments based not only on a patient’s specific symptoms, but also on the cause of their pain. Treatment for pain caused by bone spurs can differ from treatment provided for overexertion, which is why early evaluation is important. If you have sciatica — especially recurrent or chronic symptoms — here’s how bone spurs could be playing a role.
Sciatica is a type of lower back pain that happens when the sciatic nerve is “pinched” or compressed where it exits your lumbar (lower) spine. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, and after it leaves your spine, it divides into two branches — one that travels down your right leg and one that travels down your left leg.
Your sciatic nerve helps control muscle movements in your legs and even your feet. That’s why when the nerve is irritated or compressed, it can cause leg pain or weakness in addition to pain in your lower back or buttock. Pain can range from a dull or throbbing ache to sharp, electricity-like bursts of pain.
Sciatica becomes more common as we get older, and it’s also more common among people who are overweight and among pregnant women. Poor posture, overexertion, carrying heavy bags, repetitive lifting, and even a “bad” mattress can all contribute to sciatica — and so can bone spurs.
Bone spurs and sciatica
Also called osteophytes, bone spurs are bony overgrowths that usually form along the edge of a bone. They’re most often associated with arthritis — specifically alongside the joint damage that occurs in arthritis.
Arthritis causes the cartilage that lines your joints to wear away. Bone spurs form as your body tries to repair the damage and protect the exposed areas of bone.
Because bone spurs stick out from the usually smooth edges of bones, they often interfere with normal joint movement, “catching” on tissues or pressing on nerves. In sciatica, bone spurs growing in the lower part of the spine can wind up pressing on nerves as they exit that part of your spine.
Relieving sciatica pain
Fortunately, sciatica usually can be treated with conservative treatment options, including physical therapy, spinal decompression therapy, laser therapy, and shockwave therapy. Lifestyle changes can also help.
At Easy Reach Chiropractic, our team works closely with every patient to tailor individual treatment plans aimed at long-lasting relief. To learn how we can help you, book an appointment online or over the phone at our offices in Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, today.