By: Dr Sonya Hamilton
In our clinic, one of the most common issues I get asked about is sciatica. So what actually is sciatica anyways? Sciatica is a term used to refer to pain which radiates along the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve pain is a symptom of an underlying musculoskeletal problem.
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in our body. It begins from your lower lumbar region (L3), and travels through the buttock region, down the back of your thigh before it branches below the knee. When it becomes irritated, you may experience leg pain/tingling/numbness, lower limb weakness, burning or ‘electrical’ sensations down the back of your leg from the buttock to the ankle.
The length of the sciatic nerve, and the fact that it originates from the low back, makes it susceptible to irritation from a number of different sources. Most commonly, sciatic nerve issues result from lumbar disc injury or herniation, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and low back muscle strains. Additionally, it can arise from piriformis syndrome, as the nerve passes through the muscles in the buttock region. Pregnancy and sacroiliac joint issues can also lead to sciatic nerve pain. Some may find the pain is made worse with sitting, and sometimes the pain may not travel beyond the buttock.
Treatment for sciatic nerve pain is individualized for each patient, due to the fact that the pain may come from one of many sources. If you encounter sciatic nerve pain, you should work with your chiropractor to determine the cause of your pain, and the best course of treatment. Exercise and activity are important steps you can take towards improving your symptoms. Staying active will keep your muscles conditioned, and will encourage movement in the spine resulting in an improved flow of nutrients to your ligaments and joints. You should avoid high impact activities, and continue with your regular tasks and light exercise. Contrary to common belief, bed rest is not appropriate and may lead to your symptoms being prolonged or worsened. Bed rest is only appropriate in rare cases -if your pain is so severe you cannot move- and should be limited to only a day or two.
Some of the common recommendations I make to patients include walking, gentle strengthening of core muscles, stretching of target muscles, low impact aerobics, and nerve flossing. It is important to seek out advice on which activities would help your specific cause of sciatic nerve pain, as the wrong exercises may in fact worsen your symptoms. Chiropractic care helps to decrease your symptoms, and your chiropractor can provide advice on how to prevent future sciatic nerve pain from reoccurring. For most, symptoms of sciatica should resolve with appropriate conservative treatment.
Feeling some Sciatic nerve symptoms? Book your assessment with Dr Hamilton >>>>
Here are some great tips from the Ontario Chiropractic Association!
Winter weather can pack a punch and, with the season’s heavy snowfalls, injuries often result. Improper snow shovelling is often to blame.
But shovelling out after a storm doesn’t have to leave you stiff and sore. With a little know-how, you can clear your driveway without the all-too-common back, neck and shoulder pain cramping your style. Here’s how:
Before You Start
BEND YOUR KNEES.Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.
WATCH FOR ICE.Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can lead to ice building up underfoot, resulting in nasty slips and falls. Throw down some salt or sand to ensure you have a good footing.
Once you’ve mastered safe snow shovelling techniques, you’ll be free to have fun and stay fit all winter.
By Dr Sonya Hamilton, BSc MSc DC
Believe it or not, your feet can be a factor in the development of chronic low back pain. Your feet act as a very important foundation for your body, and can dictate how you adapt to stresses and changes in activity. Your feet strike the ground and propel you forwards, and faulty foot biomechanics can result in pain and dysfunction in other joints and structures in the body. If you think of your body as a kinetic chain from the ground up, your weight-bearing feet and ankles function as shock-absorbers for the whole body. If your feet are not working effectively at this job, the shock and stress makes its way up the biomechanical chain in your body. This concept often gets lost in translation, and people do not always understand the missing link between the feet and the back.
The most common offending foot dysfunction leading to back pain and other issues is over-pronation, or the inward rolling/dropping of the arches. As the foot over-pronates, the feet become flat and therefore absorb less shock when you walk or run. The rest of your body is then forced to compensate for faulty foot mechanics; your pelvis may slightly drop, your knees may rotate, and you may develop a slight lean. Over time, this adaptation may lead to the development of pain in other areas of the body such as in the back, neck, knees, hips, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia. In one study, it was found that women with flat feet are almost 50% more likely to develop low back pain.
When faulty foot mechanics are a factor in low back pain, one way to approach is to consider supporting your foot as you walk or run. When I see patients with chronic back or hip pain that are not responding to treatment and exercise recommendations, I often look to the feet as a possible solution. Using foot orthotics to support your feet can help you with foot pain, and they can change the way your whole body moves and adapts.
Orthotics have been shown to be beneficial for low back pain in a number of studies on groups exposed to higher levels of foot stress (such as in runners, military recruits, and golfers). The idea behind using orthotics for back pain- as your feet are better supported, your body becomes more balanced as you stand and walk. Eliminating imbalances in your feet will cause a ripple effect up the biomechanical chain in your body. Studies show that people suffering from chronic or re-occurring low back pain tend to respond very well to custom orthotics within 6 weeks of wearing them. So if you have been suffering from low back pain which continues even after a course of conservative care/exercise, consider taking a look to your feet as another part of the puzzle.
What is FASCIA? Does FST have anything to do with stretching my face?
A very common question! And no- fascial stretch is not a facial stretch!
Fascial Stretch involves fascia- fascia is the connective tissue that wraps and connects muscles, joints, nerves, bones, and organs. Similar to muscles, fascia can get tight and bound down, however it responds better to movement and stretching and than to traditional massage and other therapies.
Can you tell me more about FST? What can I expect? How long is a session? Is it covered by benefits?
Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) is a pain free, hands on treatment that targets the fascia. FST is a unique, complete and complementary system of table-based assisted stretching. It focuses on the fascia and joint capsule as the key elements in achieving optimal flexibility, strength, performance and pain relief. FST will help uncover areas of tightness you didn’t realize existed, while simultaneously creating release through a gentle, pain free, traction/contract and relax approach. FST is compatible with other forms of treatment and training. Results are often seen within 1-3 sessions and accumulate over time. Combined with exercises to help maintain mobility and strengthen your body in its new range FST will help you move and feel better for whatever your needs may be.
Sessions last 60 minutes, and cost $100. FST is offered by a licensed Chiropractor, if you have extended health coverage for Chiropractic care FST sessions will be eligible (check with your plan for specific details on chiropractic coverage). Certain plans can be direct billed in our clinic.
What are the benefits of FST?
Benefits of FST include:
-increased flexibility and mobility
-decreased joint compression and impingement
-improved sport performance and muscle function
-increased blood supply
-reduced risk of injury
-reduced mental and physical stress
Book an appointment with Dr Stephanie Tabbert>>
What are the top three most common issues you help clients address?
What approaches or techniques do you use as a chiropractor use to treat issues of the musculoskeletal system?
Depending on the issue someone presents with, I use an individualized approach based on current evidence, and clinical experience. This means that I do not follow a cookie cutter approach for everyone. I have a variety of techniques in my “toolbox” as a chiropractor, depending on the area of concern. Treatments often include some soft tissue therapy (muscle release), joint mobilizations to improve motion and decrease pain, and other techniques which include medical acupuncture, instrumented soft tissue treatment, and taping. I also work with my patients to address their ergonomics, sleep positioning, exercise routines, and I provide stretching and strengthening advice when needed.
If you could give everyone one piece of advice this summer what would it be?
Listen to your body! If you are sore and achy during work, take a break- get up and stretch, go for a walk, and stop eating your lunch at your desk! When gardening or exercising, if you feel a strain consider what you are doing before it’s too late.
What is new and exciting on the Chiropractic horizon for this summer?
Chiropractors in Ontario are working harder than ever before to become an integral part of your primary health care team. As musculoskeletal experts, we continue to collaborate with medical doctors, and work to improve patient outcomes in reducing chronic pain.
How is a chiropractor different than a physiotherapist?
Chiropractors and physiotherapists work towards the same goals of improving your function and mobility, while decreasing pain. Chiropractors study conditions and diseases of the musculoskeletal system extensively, and as a result are legislated with the right to diagnose and communicate a diagnosis and are legally permitted the term Doctor. Chiropractors are allowed to provide more forceful mobilizations to the spine known as adjustments; physiotherapists with extra certifications can also do this as well. Both chiropractors and physiotherapists often have a focus on rehabilitation to decrease the possibility of your condition returning. Physiotherapists tend to work more hands on with their clients to complete their rehabilitation exercises.
What can someone expect an initial appointment with you to look like?
An initial assessment includes a thorough health history, and an orthopedic examination. After discussing your current concern, I will examine the area at issue, using a variety of orthopedic tests to determine the root cause. If it is something I can treat, we will discuss my recommended treatment plan, and I start off with some treatment and recommendations. If needed, I will refer you to another appropriate practitioner such as your family doctor, or for an x ray for further assessment.
Dr Hamilton provides free 15 minute consultations to discuss treatment options, and to learn more about chiropractic (please note no health advice is given during these sessions). Click here to book online >>
Written by the team at Rebound Health and Wellness