Struggling With Sciatica?
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica affects the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lower back down the back of each leg. It is caused by irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Burning or tingling running down the leg
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A constant pain on one side of the rear
- A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up
Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often times, pain travels from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg.
The pain may also reach the foot or toes. For some people, the pain can be severe. For others, the pain might be infrequent and irritating, but it can get worse.
How Does Sciatica Start?
Some patients say that all they did was bend over to pick up a pillow and they were hit with extreme pain. They don’t understand how an easy task caused them such agony? The reality is that their condition was probably developing from a very young age or earlier injury; and that pillow just happened to be the last straw. Others think they may have been lifting incorrectly more weight than their body could handle. Still others find that repetitive movements in their work may have pushed their symptoms over the invisible edge that moves them from “occasional pain” to unrelenting agony.
What Are My Options for Treatment?
The goals of sciatica treatments are to relieve pain and any neurological symptoms caused by a compressed nerve root. There is a broad range of options available for sciatica treatment. One or more of the treatments below are usually recommended in conjunction with specific exercises.
For acute sciatic pain, heat and/or ice packs are readily available and can help alleviate the leg pain, especially in the initial phase. Usually ice or heat is applied for approximately 20 minutes, and repeated every two hours. Most people use ice first, but some find more relief with heat. The two may be alternated. It is best to apply ice with a cloth or towel placed between the ice and skin to avoid an ice burn. Using heat alone can re-ignite inflammation. Before deciding this treatment, it’s best to ask your chiropractor.
Spinal Decompression Therapy involves stretching the spine, using a traction table or similar motorized device, with the goal of relieving back pain and/or leg pain. This procedure is called nonsurgical decompression therapy (as opposed to surgical spinal decompression, such as laminectomy and microdiscectomy). Living Well makes available a SpineMED® decompression table to give our patients an overall sense of relief from disc compression. This non-surgical approach has helped many of our patients with sciatica find alternatives to surgery.
Rapid Release Technique
Sciatica can often cause an involuntary muscle contraction around the various sites of pain that leads to cramping. To treat soft tissue conditions, Dr. Brian will utilize hands-on techniques including active and passive myofascial release, Rapid Release Technique, and specific instruments to relieve built up pressures. How it works is that by moving around the high-powered vibrational instrument he is able to locate restrictions. Treatment breaks down scar tissue and encourages the body to heal the underlying tissue. As the scar tissue decreases, functional rehabilitation for the affected areas improve dysfunction and prevent relapses.
Dr. Brian will review your case with great rigor and evaluate your neuromusculoskeletal system in relation to the nerve symptoms of sciatica. If dysfunctions or imbalances are detected which manual therapies can benefit, you may be recommended to have soft tissue techniques like therapeutic massage added to your care. The ultimate goal in this case is help your body reduce pain, release involuntary contractions and improve function, naturally.
Sciatic pain used to be treated with bed rest or lying flat with little movement for as long as one is able. We at Living Well do not believe in bed rest for more than twenty-four, maximum forty-eight hours. Gentle exercise that is non-weight bearing, such as walking, swimming or bicycling can increase the healing process as long as you are careful not put excess stress on the affected area. Occasionally surgery is indicated; though we believe surgery is too often the “quick fix” approach to sciatic or any back pain that goes on longer than one month. Our focus is to look at the source of the pain and treat it with chiropractic care,
What’s the Rate of Recovery?
Some people respond very quickly to chiropractic work while others take more time to recover. It’s important to recall one’s past history of sciatica when Dr. Brian conducts his initial assessment. Depending how longer one has suffered from the issue, the longer it will take to achieve correction. A magic bullet does not exist but a lifestyle of caring for our bodies may not only give us relief but may help us prevent further injury. We find that chiropractic care combined with new forms of movement will also go a long way toward relieving the pain most people experience.
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