Jul 25, 2016
What You Should Know About Sciatica
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the human body and is made up of individual nerve roots that originate by branching out from the spine in the lower back. Sciatica occurs when the large sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed at the point of origin.
Sciatica should not be left untreated, as it is usually a symptom of an underlying medical condition like a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis.
The most common symptoms of sciatica include:
• Constant pain in only one side of buttock or leg
• Pain that is worse when sitting
• Leg pain that feels like burning, tingling or searing
• Weakness, numbness or trouble moving the leg, foot and/or toes
• Sharp pain that makes it difficult to stand or walk
• Pain that radiates down the leg and into the foot
There are certain rare sciatica symptoms that are extreme enough to require immediate medical or surgical intervention. These symptoms include progressive neurological symptoms like leg weakness and/or bowel or bladder dysfunction. Sciatica can also be caused by infection or spinal tumors in serious situations.
How a Chiropractor Can Help
A licensed chiropractor can provide relief from sciatica through spinal decompression. This non-surgical treatment works to alleviate pressure from the nerves, and combined with rehabilitation it can re-educate the muscles, ligaments and tendons to create a healthier disc environment. Decompression works alongside the concept of gentle distraction therapy, which combines the compression and decompression of the disc. There is a membrane that prevents fluids from moving in and out of a spinal column that connects the vertebrae. Decompression forms a vacuum that relieves the pressure between the vertebrae, allowing the disc to reshape to its natural form. After decompression is released, the pressure in the spinal column equalizes at a faster rate and alleviates pressures on the disc. Decompression and compression allow the tissue surrounding a disc to heal by providing new blood flow and oxygenation to the injured area.
While decompression and compression are the most common treatments for sciatica, a chiropractor might also use another method. Alternative methods for sciatica treatment include:
• Ice/cold therapy: This reduces inflammation and will help control the sciatic pain.
• Ultrasound: Uses gentle heat created by sound waves to deeply infiltrate into tissues. The ultrasound increases circulation and helps reduce spasms, cramps, swelling, stiffness and pain.
• TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a small battery-powered, portable muscle stimulating machine. Variable intensities of electrical currents focus on acute pain and reduce muscle spasms.
• Spinal manipulation: Spinal manipulation will free restricted movement of the spine and help restore misaligned vertebral bodies to their proper positions in the spinal column. Spinal adjustment can reduce nerve irritability, muscle spasms, pain and other sciatica symptoms.