Sciatica pain can radiate to the knee. Individuals with sciatica do report unique/unusual knee pain that was never there and no past or recent physical injuries. Sciatica is the culprit, as the knee muscles are powered and controlled by nerves in the lower spine. Irritation or compression of these nerves can cause symptoms that can include: random back pain, hamstring tightness, weakness in the hips or quadriceps, the development of bunions, and knee pain and/or weakness. Chiropractic treatment can release the compression, heal the sciatic nerve, and alleviate knee problems.
Sciatica Pain Can Radiate To The Knee
Spine conditions that can cause sciatica include:
- Disc herniation – Where the inside of the discs leak out and compress and/or irritate surrounding nerves.
- Degeneration of the discs – The discs between the vertebrae wear down naturally as the body ages.
- Spinal stenosis – The spinal canal begins to narrow, not allowing enough space for the nerves to rest comfortably, resulting in compressed nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis – A condition that occurs when a vertebrae slips forward onto the vertebrae below it.
Any can cause irritation, inflammation, or compression of the sciatic nerve leading to painful sensations that extends from the lower back down through the leg.
Common knee symptoms that may be experienced with sciatica include:
- A dull ache, warm sensation, or sharp pain around the knee.
- Tightness in the hamstrings.
- Weakness in the hips or quadriceps.
- Unable to put weight on the knee.
- Buckling/Collapsing giving out of the knee.
- Difficulty or inability to straighten the knee.
- Weakness when extending the knee.
- Bunions form from weakened stabilizing muscles that affect walking, running, and standing posture.
As sciatica pain can radiate to the knee, individuals will usually also experience pain in their buttocks, thigh, calf, and/or foot. The nerve sensations and other symptoms in the knee can be felt through a branch of the sciatic nerve known as the peroneal nerve.
The knee pain will last as long as sciatica does, depending on the type of sciatica, whether it is acute or chronic.
- An acute sciatic episode usually resolves after a few weeks, with possible future flare-ups.
- Chronic sciatica is a long-term condition that does not resolve independently and necessitates intervention by a specialist.
Chiropractic Treatment Plan
Depending on the diagnosis, a chiropractor will develop a personalized treatment plan to address the root cause and heal the injury. The treatment plan will include therapeutic massage, posture training, and at-home self-care to help heal and prevent future sciatica.
- Physical therapy and therapeutic massage will loosen and relax the muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments.
- Heat and ice, exercises, and stretches will prepare the muscles and nerves for chiropractic decompression adjustments.
- Training will be provided to maintain the back, hips, knees, and feet in proper alignment.
- Training on removing pressure from the lower back and restabilizing the rest of the body.
- Training on proper body mechanics, safe lifting techniques, and injury prevention.
- Training on self-care habits that include healthy weight, core strengthening exercises and stretches for the back muscles, and proper rest for a full recovery.
- Discomfort and pain management skills.
- An anti-inflammatory diet to reduce/eliminate inflammation and achieve a healthy weight and a nutrition plan to maintain overall health.
- Surgery is the final option when conservative treatments are not working.
Treating Severe & Complex Sciatica Syndromes
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Hirabayashi, Hiroki, et al. “Characteristics of L3 nerve root radiculopathy.” Surgical neurology vol. 72,1 (2009): 36-40; discussion 40. doi:10.1016/j.surneu.2008.08.073
Jandre Reis, Felipe Jose, and Adriana Ribeiro Macedo. “Influence of Hamstring Tightness in Pelvic, Lumbar and Trunk Range of Motion in Low Back Pain and Asymptomatic Volunteers during forwarding Bending.” Asian spine journal vol. 9,4 (2015): 535-40. doi:10.4184/asj.2015.9.4.535
Jeong, Ui-Cheol, et al. “The effects of self-mobilization techniques for the sciatic nerves on physical functions and health of low back pain patients with lower limb radiating pain.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 28,1 (2016): 46-50. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.46
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