:Sciatica is a painful condition that some experts estimate to afflict as many as four out of ten people. Depending on its severity, it can be a debilitating condition that impacts the ability to walk, causes what can be intense pain in the buttocks and leg, increased anxiety, and can even cause shortness of breath. Fortunately, for those who suffer from sciatica, there are a multitude of treatments that can provide effective pain relief.
How Do I Get Sciatica?
There are a variety of risk factors correlated to sciatica. For instance, it tends to occur most often in people aged thirty to fifty. Overweight and even pregnant individuals are also at higher risk due to excess pounds putting pressure on the nerves. People who sit for prolonged periods of time for a hobby or job also have a higher likelihood of contracting sciatica, as well as those who suffer from diabetes.
Sciatica is a result of sciatic nerve compression. It can occur from a variety of sources including:
- misaligned vertebrae
- herniated or bulging disks
- tumors on the spine
- and other spinal injuries or disorders
The pain generally only occurs on one side of the body, starting in the lower back and buttock area, and traveling through the thigh area down to the foot. Sciatica can be an intermittent pain for some, only flaring up on occasion, and can be a constant source of pain for others. Some people suffering from sciatica experience intense, stabbing, pain, while others report a dull ache.
How Can I Treat My Pain?
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments to help relieve sciatica pain. The good news is that, for many people, the use of one or more non-surgical options can often provide relief within just a few weeks. Of course, it is always best to consult with your physician or chiropractor for information, referrals, and assistance. Below is a list of some of the most common methods as well as a description to help you decide which method might work best for you.
Sciatica Treatment Options
- Medication—Over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and NSAIDS often do the trick, but your doctor may prescribe something stronger if those don’t appear to be working for you. In addition to prescription pain medications, your physician might also prescribe muscle relaxers or even steroid injections into the offending nerve.
- Physical Therapy and Exercise—A physical therapist can work with you to develop a personalized regimen of exercise and stretches that will help ease sciatica pain by strengthening muscle and reducing inflammation. Usually, a physical therapist will provide exercises that can also be done at home to extend the benefits of the therapy.
- Alternative Therapies—Some sciatica patients also find relief in alternative therapies such as yoga and massage. Both therapies provide stress relief which is an overall benefit to the body. Yoga has a large focus on stretching and strengthening while massage focuses on breaking up muscle knots that have been putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Chiropractic Care—Many people with sciatica seek chiropractic treatment for pain relief. A chiropractor uses a variety of tools such as:
- spinal manipulation
- cold therapy
- and ultrasound
- as well as other methods individualized for each patient.
- Many chiropractors also offer physical therapy and medical massage within their office or practice.
- Surgery—Surgery is usually the last resort to treat pain resulting from sciatica. Only between five and ten percent of patients usually require surgery. The two primary types of surgery include diskectomy, where the surgeon eliminates whatever is compressing the nerve, and laminectomy. This involves removal of the lamina, which is part of the ring of bone that covers the spinal cord, as well as any other tissue that might be pressing on the nerve.
What Type of Healthcare Provider Will Treat My Sciatica?
Both physicians and chiropractors can treat sciatica. The type of provider that will work best for you will depend on the source and severity of your sciatica. A chiropractor is often a great choice for initial evaluation and treatment. They offer a variety of treatment options at an affordable cost, without reliance on surgery or pain medication. Even if your sciatica requires treatment from a physician, a chiropractor will still often provide supplemental treatment in partnership with your medical care team.
How Will Chiropractic Treatment Ease My Pain?
Research has shown that chiropractic care is an effective source of pain relief from sciatica. Some studies indicate that patient’s with sciatica will show vast improvement after just four to six appointments. When you first visit your chiropractor, they will complete an evaluation comprised of oral and medical histories. This is done to help determine your range of motion and level of pain. It also helps pinpoint the source of your sciatica. Your chiropractor may also decide to take x-rays or recommend additional tests to adequately diagnose and determine the appropriate course of treatment for your individual needs.
Once your diagnosis of sciatica has been confirmed, your chiropractor will then begin treatment. As mentioned previously, one of the hallmark activities of chiropractic care is spinal manipulation. Through a series of skilled adjustments, your chiropractor will work toward bringing your spine back into alignment. In turn, this will alleviate pressure and stress on your sciatic nerve, thereby reducing pain. In addition to spinal manipulation, your chiropractic team may also introduce other pain-relieving therapies such as:
- medical massage
- and even physical therapy
More than likely, you’ll also be taught stretches and other exercises you can do at home to treat sciatica pain.
If you are interested in learning more about seeing a chiropractor to treat your sciatica, please contact Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine at (972) 355-0083. Our experienced staff can provide a full evaluation as well as the information you need to make the best treatment decision for you.