Sciatica: More than just leg pain
Chiropractic care may relieve your sciatic pain.
The sciatic nerve is the large nerve that travels from your lower spine, through your buttocks and down your legs to your toes. It supplies both movement and sensation to specific parts of the thigh calf and foot.
“Sciatica” is the word that we use to describe symptoms travelling down the very same path.
It is not a disease it is just an accurate location of symptoms.
Sciatica can be painful and debilitating, however chiropractic care may be able to help improve spinal function and reduce your sciatic pain.
What are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
Sciatica can vary between a dull pain to a sharp burning pain which will often travel down one or both legs, it can be associated with ‘pins and needles’, numbness and muscle weakness. There can also be abnormal neurological findings such as reflex loss, muscle weakness, and sensory changes.
The location of the pain is very specific with sciatica. The pain will be felt in the back of the thigh, back and side of the calf and the outside of the foot. Often pain that is felt in the outside or the front of the thigh is wrongly called sciatica.
For those individuals who suffer from severe sciatica a good night’s sleep is seemingly impossible and essential tasks and movements such as walking, standing, bending or standing can be difficult. The pain can last from a few hours to days or weeks at a time.
What are the Common Causes of Sciatica?
There are two main types of sciatica:
- Referred pain which usually comes from abnormal movement and degeneration of the muscles, joints and ligaments of the spine
- Neurogenic pain which is produced when a nerve is compressed or irritated. The most common causes of nerve compression are:
- Disc injuries can sometimes require surgery but fortunately this only occurs in a small number of serious cases.
- Spinal Stenosis is where the spinal canal is narrowed causing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Degeneration, tumours, cysts, structural variations or fractures can all cause this condition.
- Piriformis Syndrome is where the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve as it passes out of the pelvis.
Whilst the treatment is different for each cause the pain is often the same to the patient which is why an accurate diagnosis needs to be made.
How do chiropractors treat Sciatica?
As chiropractors if we believe that chiropractic care can help you we design an individual treatment plan to attempt to improve the movement to your spine and relieve irritation or pressure of the sciatic nerve. A tailored rehabilitation exercise program designed to improve movement and strengthen the muscles in the region will also be recommended to you.
We may also recommend heat and ice to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain and muscle tightness. Pain relieving or anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended to help ease any discomfort if necessary.
With some sciatic patients a multi disciplinary approach may needed involving options such as medications and epidural injections to get the best results.
Surgery such as discectomy and laminectomy should only be considered in extreme cases or as a last resort when all other treatment approaches have failed.
How Long Does it Take to get Better
The healing process takes time and can vary from person to person often depending on the severity of the condition and the history of the complaint.
Regardless of the type of treatment, some patients will experience some degree of pain relief in the first few days of their treatment while others can take weeks to experience pain relief.
Clinically we find that the recovery time is directly related to the cause of the sciatica and that is why an accurate diagnosis is so important before any treatment is started.
How Do You Find Out If Chiropractic Care Can Help You?
As your professional chiropractor, we will take a complete history of your past and present symptoms and complete a thorough scientific examination to try to accurately find the cause of your sciatica. We will explain clearly to you what we have found, what is wrong and recommend an individual treatment program if suitable that is designed specifically to remove your symptoms and improve your health. If we do not believe that chiropractic care can help you we will refer you to another health care professional for further assessment.
We pride ourselves on the quality of our care and the treatments that we offer. We look forward to helping you in the future.
Do you suffer from low back pain or sciatica? Chiropractic care may help. Contact us Today.
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