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Arthritis and Sciatica: Understanding the Link

Arthritis and Sciatica: Understanding the Link

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that can affect any joint in the body, including the spine. It often leads to pain and other symptoms that make it difficult to perform normal activities.

Sciatica is another common condition that affects the spine, often leading to leg pain and nerve symptoms. Although both conditions are very different, they share some striking similarities you may not know.

If you're dealing with back pain or sciatica symptoms, Dr. Jason Ablett and the team at Pinnacle Health Chiropractic get to the bottom of the problem. Dr. Ablett is an experienced chiropractor who offers holistic therapies to treat back pain, sciatica, and arthritis.

The facts on arthritis of the spine

Many types of arthritis can affect the various joints throughout the body. Unfortunately, the spine is no exception, with osteoarthritis being the most common form of the disease.

Arthritis leads to joint inflammation and pain over time as the cartilage and discs wear down. Injury and certain conditions may cause arthritis earlier in life, leading to symptoms such as:

The symptoms of spinal arthritis occur because the protective cartilage that keeps the vertebrae from coming together is wearing away. Once the cartilage becomes thin and the discs lose their cushion, the vertebrae move closer together, putting pressure on the surrounding tissues and nerves.

People over the age of 60 are at a higher risk for osteoarthritis due to years of wear and tear on the spine. However, you could get arthritis sooner if you've suffered a back injury or have a condition like degenerative disc disease.

Understanding sciatica

Sciatica is a term doctors use to describe nerve pain that starts in the back and goes into one or both legs. Although an actual injury to the sciatic nerve is uncommon, any pinched or damaged nerve in the spine can lead to sciatica symptoms.

The sciatic nerve is a large, thick nerve that originates in the lower back. It splits at the pelvis, and each branch travels through the hips and down the legs. Many branches of nerves split off the main sciatic nerve, and any of those may cause symptoms like:

You typically feel symptoms when something is compressing the sciatic nerve or one of the branches of nerves near it. The symptoms range from mild to severe and may be constant or come and go.

Many conditions lead to sciatica, including spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and back injuries. The good news is that sciatica often clears independently after a few weeks of rest and home care.

Can I have sciatica and arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of sciatic-like pain in adults. It's widespread spine arthritis and sciatic-like symptoms because of nerve compression near the joints.

If you're living with osteoarthritis of the spine, the sooner you seek treatment, the less likely it will be that you experience sciatica symptoms. Although arthritis is a degenerative problem, the proper care and treatment can lessen the pressure on the spinal nerves.

When you have arthritis and are experiencing nerve pain in the back and legs, Dr. Ablett can help through chiropractic manipulations. He can also relieve pressure on the spinal nerves through various therapies, including electrical stimulation and myofascial release techniques.

Does one condition cause the other?

Although sciatica typically doesn't cause spinal arthritis, you can have arthritis that leads to true sciatica or sciatic-like symptoms. Arthritis causes sciatica when the protective cartilage and spongy discs wear away, allowing the bones to compress on the nerves.

Unfortunately, when you have both conditions, you could experience double the symptoms. Arthritis often causes stiffness and pain in the back, while sciatica leads to numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the hips and legs.

The good news is that Dr. Ablett can help you find relief from one or both symptoms through regular chiropractic care. He evaluates your symptoms and spine to determine the best treatment route for your needs.

Regular chiropractic manipulations help keep your spine in line and relieve pressure on the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and nerves, which helps with sciatic symptoms. They also help with swelling and inflammation around the spine, which often causes chronic discomfort.

Dr. Ablett formulates a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve long-term relief. He may recommend regular massages, rehabilitative exercise, and other holistic treatments to manage your pain and symptoms.

To learn more about sciatica and back pain treatment, call our office in Kirkland, Washington, to schedule an appointment or book a consultation on our website. 

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