Back pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek medical treatment. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 8 out of 10 people suffer from some type of back pain, which can range from acute to chronic.
While back pain can occur in various areas of the back, the most common is in the low back. If you have low back pain, particularly pain that radiates to other areas of your body, you may be suffering from sciatica. Sciatica is characterized by some unique symptoms and fortunately, there are some effective chiropractic treatments available for this often debilitating pain.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is back pain that is distinguished by irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the longest nerve in the body, which extends down the lower back, through your legs, all the way to your toes. Sciatica is a unique condition that can affect people with varying symptoms, sometimes quite severe.
Common symptoms of sciatica include pain, weakness, or numbness in the leg or buttocks which could become worse when sitting. Patients may also feel burning or tingling running down one leg or a constant pain in one side of the buttocks. There may occasionally be a shooting pain down the leg that makes it difficult to move or get up from a seated position. Usually, sciatica only affects one side of the body, but this doesn’t make the pain and discomfort any less concerning.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is a set of symptoms that results from pressure that is placed on one or more of the lumbar nerve roots, which causes pain and discomfort along the sciatic nerve. If a bone is misaligned, say from a bulging disc in your spine, you could suffer from sciatica.
There are two other places that where the sciatic nerve could be affected. The first is in your pelvis along the sacroiliac joint. Any broken bones or muscle strains along the pelvis, leg, or even foot could impinge on the sciatic nerve. Finally, the sciatic nerve passes underneath the muscles in your buttocks, which make it susceptible to being “pinched” or damaged.
The Most Effective Treatment for Sciatica
Fortunately, when you’re feeling sciatic pain, there is a solution. Sciatica can be effectively treated with chiropractic care that is tailored to your individual symptoms. There are several treatment options for patients experiencing sciatic pain, and often the most effective course includes some combination of:
- Chiropractic treatments and physical therapy to help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Epidural steroid injections may be used to help reduce inflammation surrounding the nerve root.
- Alternating heat therapy and ice with massage therapy to relieve pain, discomfort, and tingling from sciatica.
Effective treatment for sciatica is individualized in nature. This means that what works for one patient may not work for someone else, even if symptoms are similar. While many sciatica symptoms disappear within a few weeks with proper treatment, others can last much longer and require a more intense level of care. When treating sciatica, patients should always work with a qualified professional to establish the correct diagnosis and to develop a sound treatment plan.