Sciatica is characterized by pain in the lower back and gluteal region. This pain can radiate down one or both legs into the thigh, calf, ankle, and foot. Genuine sciatica occurs when pain travels beneath the knee.
Sciatic nerve pain results when the base of the spine is compressed or irritated and/or if trauma from an injury or an aggravated condition have compressed the spinal segments surrounding the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is located at the sacral areas of the spine and the lumbar spine. Sciatic nerve pain or sciatica can be described as sharp, dull, burning, tingly, numb, continuous, or intermittent and generally affects only one side of the body. It can radiate throughout the entire length of the nerve, in some cases all of the way down to the feet.
Sciatic nerve pain is most often the result of a bulging or herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or in extremely rare instances, infection or tumor. The cause of your pain determines what are your treatment options to relieve sciatica.
Sciatica Treatment Options
The following article lists several common sciatica treatment options. You may want to read about:
- alternative remedies (eg, acupuncture)
- chiropractic care
- physical therapy
People who have lower back pain have been prescribed bed rest so as to offer relief for aching bones and joints. Research in recent years has suggested that bed rest alone won't offer relief for those suffering from sciatica or sciatic nerve pain.
Staying active may be more beneficial for people who suffer with back pain due to the compression or irritation of their sciatic nerve. Not to say that you ought to be running marathons. Activity means being mobile and up for long periods of time which are not sufficient to cause further injury and aggravation for your back pain. Some healthcare professionals may prescribe certain exercises, or some could simply indicate walking.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief
Pain is often treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or codeine (in severe cases).
In some cases a cortisone-like drug could be injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal column. This process is like the epidural used during childbirth, and it's called an epidural steroid injection. A course of this type of treatment may offer temporary relief, however, it doesn't address the root of the problem. Treatment options like chiropractic care can help treat symptoms of sciatica at the source.
Chiropractic Treatment for Sciatic Nerve Pain
A chiropractor frequently treats people with sciatica. Their adjustments will aim to realign the spine, taking off the pressure of the sciatic nerve and often bringing rapid sciatica relief. When the stress is off, the body can begin to heal itself. While adjustments are probably most often used, other remedies may be given, especially if an adjustment is not recommended for the patient's health issue. Other chiropractic treatment options might include using ice/cold treatment, ultrasound, a TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) device or rehabilitative exercises. Ultrasound warms the region and increases circulation, which can reduce the swelling and muscular strain. A TENS device brings relief by using a slight electric current to relax muscle spasms and to increase endorphins. Additionally, a chiropractor might frequently consist of rehabilitative exercises so as to accelerate the recovery process. Massage therapy might also assist.
- Ice/Cold Therapy reduces inflammation and aids restrain from sciatic nerve pain.
- Ultrasound is gentle heat created by sound waves which penetrates deep into tissues. As mentioned previously, it increases circulation and reduces muscle spasms, cramping, swelling or inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
- Adjustments (Spinal Manipulations). Spinal adjustments are in the heart of Chiropractic care. Manipulation supports restricted motion of the spine and helps to restore misaligned vertebral bodies with their proper position in the spinal column. Adjustment techniques differ from a swift high velocity thrust to those that combine minimal pressure and gentle pressure. Mastery of every technique is an art which requires great skill and precision. Spinal manipulation is the remedy that distinguishes chiropractic care from other medical areas.
- Rehabilitative exercises. A combination of aerobics, strength training and stretching is commonly used to unleash pain-relieving endorphins in addition to relax the muscles which may be causing the nerve compression or irritation.
In some individuals, sciatica may fix itself, maybe occurring only once or a couple of times. However, if not treated properly, sciatica can worsen. A chiropractor can help bring relief, however, several alterations, will likely be required, especially if it has been occurring for a while. Letting a chiropractor treat sciatic nerve pain provides you a no surgery and no medication choice. Exercises will most likely be advisable to strengthen the muscles in the back to help prevent sciatica from recurring, and recovery is apt to take some time.
Surgery for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
If no other alternative treatment option has provided the patient relief from their symptoms, some patients with sciatica may discover substantial relief from surgery. In cases of herniated discs, a surgical procedure called a laminectomy may be performed. In this process, a portion of the posterior arch is removed to relieve pressure on pinched nerve tissues. In cases of spinal stenosis, the portion of bone that's putting pressure on the sciatic nerve system could be taken off. Surgery is not for everybody. But for people who have shown no sign of progress in four to six weeks and that have had CT scans (computed tomography) or MRI that reveal a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, surgery may provide substantial relief.
Dr. Alex Jimenez's Insight
Surgical interventions are frequently discussed as a possible treatment option for a variety of injuries and/or conditions which cause sciatica, however, surgery should only be considered as a last resort after all other treatment options have been utilized without improvement. Chiropractic care is a natural treatment approach which focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sciatic nerve pain through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, among other commonly utilized treatment methods. Through the proper alignment of the spine, chiropractic care focuses on allowing the human body to naturally heal its sciatica without the need for surgery or drugs/medications.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic as well as to spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Sciatica is medically referred to as a collection of symptoms, rather than a single injury and/or condition. Symptoms of sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, can vary in frequency and intensity, however, it is most commonly described as a sudden, sharp (knife-like) or electrical pain that radiates from the low back down the buttocks, hips, thighs and legs into the foot. Other symptoms of sciatica may include, tingling or burning sensations, numbness and weakness along the length of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica most frequently affects individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 years. It may often develop as a result of the degeneration of the spine due to age, however, the compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve caused by a bulging or herniated disc, among other spinal health issues, may also cause sciatic nerve pain.