Sciatica Chiropractic Treatment
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Sciatica refers to the pain that inflammation or impingement of the sciatic nerve can cause in the lower back down the leg or into the and hip. Such an affliction is surprisingly common, and it can have a variety of causes. Pain can be debilitating for sciatica sufferers, and diagnosis often comes after weeks of discomfort.
Along with conventional treatments, chiropractic care may be the right choice for managing your sciatica.
Chiropractic treatments serve to increase function and mobility, reduce pain, and consistent treatment can help you avoid further attacks in the future. Visiting a chiropractor can be scary at first, especially if you've never received chiropractic care before. But such care can also be life-changing.
This article will help you on your journey to receiving chiropractic treatment for sciatica pain. We will explore some common causes of sciatic pain, what may go into getting a diagnosis, traditional treatments and prevention, and ways that a chiropractor can help you.
The sciatic nerve is the body's largest nerve. It is a thick, cable-like nerve that runs from the lower back to the buttocks and down each leg. Damage to or impingement of the nerve can cause lower back or hip pain, shooting or burning sensations through the buttocks and legs, tingling, or losing muscle control in the foot or leg. Symptoms may get worse when you cough, sneeze, or move a certain way. But what causes such damage to the nerve?
The most common cause of sciatica is compression or impingement of the nerve. This prevents electric signals from traveling down the nerve. Several factors can cause compression.
Stenosis is a narrowing in the spinal column that compresses on the nerves. Stenosis can be caused by age-related factors like osteoarthritis, bone spurs, or thickened ligaments. It can also be caused by tumors or trauma to the spinal column, such as from a car accident or a fall.
Herniated or Bulging Disks
Herniated disks occur when the spongy disks between your vertebrae slip out and are compressed by the vertebrae. This can be age-related because the disk's exterior tends to dry out and crack with age. But herniated disks can also happen from spinal trauma or from lifting or bending.
Other injuries to the spine and surrounding tissues may result in piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a large muscle that runs from your pelvis to your outer hip. Damage to the muscle is most commonly caused by overuse or repetitive use. Symptoms of piriformis syndrome include muscle soreness in the buttocks or bursitis in the hip. The most severe symptom is sciatic neuralgia, which is where the inflamed muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. This compression causes lower back pain, tingling and numbness, and pain in the buttocks that travels down the leg past the knee.
It is rather easy to injure your sciatic nerve by having poor posture or weak musculature. Misalignment can occur from activities like twisting, bending, and lifting, or even from sitting excessively.
Knowing what is causing your pain makes seeking appropriate treatment much easier.
Diagnosing sciatica can be challenging. Most allopathic doctors won't even begin to run tests until your pain has been consistent or worsening for multiple weeks. A physical exam is the first step to getting a diagnosis. Your doctor should check your reflexes, and other body functions by asking you to squat, stand, walk, and check whether you can lift your legs one at a time while lying down. Sciatica pain typically worsens during these activities.
Sciatica will resolve on its own but will continue to return as long as the underlying cause is still a problem. This is why diagnosing it is so important. To find out whether there is an underlying issue affecting your spine, your doctor may order imaging. This includes:
X-rays, pictures of your bones, can detect issues with your vertebrae, such as bone spurs that could be compressing your sciatic nerve.
An MRI uses magnetic and radio waves to examine the bone and soft tissue. It provides a more comprehensive view of what may be happening with your spine.
A CT is a series of x-rays taken on a cross-section of your body using dye. This contrast allows spinal muscle and nerves to appear white on the x-rays. A CT scan allows the doctor to view many angles, which a standard x-ray does not.
An EMG tests the electrical impulses produced by your nerves. This test uses electrodes to check muscle responses. It can help diagnose nerve compression from spinal stenosis, herniated disks, and other obstructions. Once you have a diagnosis of sciatica, you can begin treatment to help alleviate your pain.
No one factor contributes to the prevention of sciatic pain. There are, however, many things you can do to lessen the likelihood of aggravating your sciatica. Proper posture when sitting and standing is essential. Engaging in an exercise program or regular stretching will increase mobility and strength. You should also exercise care when lifting and carrying objects. Visiting a chiropractor may help you stay on top of your sciatica symptoms, and regular sciatica chiropractic treatments can prevent a debilitating attack.
How a Chiropractor Can Help
Seeking sciatica pain chiropractic treatment can help immensely when you're suffering and having trouble moving around. Sciatica chiropractic treatments can include:
Chiropractic adjustments begin with an examination of your spine. Our doctors will look for misaligned vertebrae and other problems like scoliosis or slipped discs. Then, they use gentle manipulation to realign your spine. This helps to reduce pressure on the nerve roots and serves to lessen your pain.
Chiropractic sciatica treatments are not limited to spinal adjustments. If you have sciatica from piriformis syndrome, you might benefit from trigger point therapy or myofascial release, both of which work on the muscles to decrease swelling and pain. These therapies are most effective in conjunction with a chiropractic adjustment.
Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. You will learn proper posture and better habits for moving in ways that don't exacerbate your pain. In conjunction with other sciatica chiropractic treatments, physical therapy can help you maintain mobility and live a pain-free life.
Our team at Natural Care Chiropractic can assist you with lifestyle changes that will have you feeling immediate relief. From ergonomic chairs to convertible sit-to-stand desks, we can advise you on changes to your work environment. Additionally, we can work with you on strategies to prevent injury at home.
Living with sciatica is never easy. However, understanding why the pain occurs and getting proper treatment can help.
Sciatica chiropractic treatments seek to ease your pain naturally through chiropractic adjustments, manual therapy, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
No single method of treatment is better than another, and every sciatica patient is different. What works for one person may not work for another, but an informed patient can seek the best treatment for themselves.
Contact Natural Care Chiropractic today if you suffer from sciatica and want to discuss treatment or set up a consultation.