Updated: Apr 28, 2021
If you are like 80% of the rest of the world, you have experienced low back pain at some point in time, or will in the future. This article will teach you what is happening with a disc herniation, why it is happening and creating sciatica, and how a quick test can find you a solution!
Low back pain is the #1 disability in the world and many individuals find themselves in these situations of sciatic nerve pain or bulging disc, but don't exactly feel like they receive the proper education behind what is happening and why. I wanted to make sure we had a clear and easy understanding of what is going on! Low back pain can cause a massive impact on an individual's life. Many times we get sucked into the current, yet out-dated, system of poor management of low back disorders and end up feeling scared and lost looking at drugs or surgery as our only hope. Well I am tired of millions of people getting the run around with low back issues and being left helpless. THIS NEEDS TO STOP! The key to tackling this worldwide problem is to become empowered through knowledge and guidance so you can better understand what is happening. The more you understand, the more in control you become, and the better you can recover!
Watch this in-depth video and then continue reading below!
Shown on the spine model in the video above, we can see a little bit of that disc opening and if we squeeze it (symbolized by bending forward or flexing) we can see where the disc bulge starts to come out. Now if the disc/nerve starts to get irritated then the exiting nerve root that comes out and travels down the back, side, and front of your leg will get irritated. An irritated nerve does NOT want to stretch. Just like a strained muscle doesn't want to stretch. Many people that experience this sciatica leg pain often are stuck stretching it over days, weeks, months, or years with no relief. This is because the nerve does not like this, and sometimes stretching the leg where you feel the pain or tightness can make your condition even worse! I see this a lot with individuals that join yoga for low back pain and sciatica that end up getting worse. This is not because yoga is bad, but because a sensitive disc/nerve cannot be stretched out and this concept can be confusing for many as most are used to stretching things that feel tight, but this may not be the best choice!
So why do you get sciatica pain when bending forward? This is shown with the green band symbolizing your sciatic nerve in the video above and picture below. As you bend forward, your sciatic nerve goes into tension and is stretched. An irritated sciatic nerve will not want to stretch and will be sensitive to this, thus eliciting sciatic nerve pain down the leg. This leg pain is very commonly associated with disc herniations. Now this irritated nerve can occur with or without lower back pain, that's why some people complain of sciatica even though their low back feels fine. Many times individuals will be falsely diagnosed with piriformis syndrome in these situations since many individuals don't receive thorough low back assessments. Piriformis syndrome is actually quite rare, and I have yet to see a single case in all of my online low back clients, yet many were falsely diagnosed.
Looking back at the video spine model, you can see the gooey disc is between your hard bony vertebrae and there is a gelly like substance in the middle of the disc that might come out and squeeze onto the nerve root. This same process can occur in the cervical spine and lumbar spine. This process is simply explained by many chiropractors or physical therapists as a pinched nerve or pinched sciatic nerve. The irritation of the nerve occurs from 2 main things.
Option 1: The disc is pushing directly onto the nerve causing mechanical pressure.
Option 2: The disc is releasing chemical irritants that are spreading onto the nearby nerve and creating a chemically irritating environment around the nerve.
Our goal for rehab of these conditions is to find the movement of the spine that is going to alleviate the symptoms the most. If we can find the movement of the spine that is going to make the disc happy, the nerve will be happy and the symptoms will slowly begin to come out of the leg towards the low back. This is called centralization. The amount of radiation down the leg is directly related to the amount of nerve/disc irritation. If the nerve is really irritated, you might be getting sciatica symptoms all the way down to your foot, if the nerve becomes less irritated, it might only go down to your mid hamstring. Sciatica symptoms that spread further away from the body is a process called peripheralization, and symptoms that go away from the extremity and towards the body is called centralization.
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If we can find the movement that causes centralization, then everything will be able to heal up nicely and feel great! This is important to determine success for sciatica treatment. This informs us of a great prognosis for back pain relief and sciatica relief. Typically we find that individuals that experience this phenomenon no longer need to worry about MRI's, surgeries, or anything invasive because of how promising this sign is. THEN we get into the spine stability, core stability, and strengthening work AFTER we find those movements that will work for your spine so that we can make long-lasting changes to your low back. The order of events is important.
Now that we understand how a disc bulge happens, how it irritates nerves, and how the nerve shoots pain down the leg with bending forward we can work on finding a solution! Below is a quick test we can do to see if we can begin making positive changes. This test will tell us if we can find a solution as a team.
Are you struggling with a disc herniation or sciatica right now?
TRY THIS TEST!
This is a quick test you can do to see if your low back issues are related to disc/nerve irritation. This sciatica test will immediately confirm if I can help you right here right now, so watch the video below and then if it worked, even just slightly, continue reading below so you can find a long-term solution and avoid drugs, injections, and surgery!
What is the Next Step?
If this test worked YOU NEED A PLAN! Now to resolve this and find long-term relief can vary from person to person but in my experience with online clients around the world there is a similar pattern among many individuals with disc herniations or sciatica that is commonly missed. The majority of my clients in the RehabFix Online Low Back Program have had low back issues for years and have tried Chiro, PT, medication, injections, orthopedists - you name it! It seems like they all were missing some key components..... First I would recommend my FREE Low Back Webinar that discusses multiple factors that contribute to lower back pain!
Then if you still feel like you are
missing out on your life at 100%
wasting thousands $$$ on interventions that aren't producing results
working with someone you feel does NOT care about YOUR GOALS
worried about this leading to drugs or surgery
Then it's time to take action! No time to waste!
✅ Ready to ATTACK Low Back Pain or Sciatica?
✅ Are you sick of guessing your way through this low back pain?
✅ Want to prevent drugs or surgery?
Thanks for reading! -Dr. Grant Elliott