Sciatica is a medical condition in which the nerve root in the lower back is being irritated or inflamed, resulting in pain that extends down one or both leg. The pain typically worsens after periods of sitting or standing and sometimes when trying to sleep.
The medical term for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy. Sciatica may also be referred to as a pinched nerve or compressed nerve pain.
Although sciatic pain likely occurs in the buttocks, leg, and/or foot, it usually originates in the low back. It typically involves the discs between the vertebra (spinal bones), but can result from a spasm of the Piriformis muscle in the buttocks, which stretches over the sciatic nerve.
Typical symptoms of sciatica include the following:
Pain in the leg or bullocks that increases when sitting
Burning or tingling sensation running down the leg
Weakness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
Pins-and-needles feeling in the foot or toes
Constant pain on one side of the buttocks
Sharp or shooting pain (sometimes feeling like an electric shock) when attempting to stand after sitting, or coughing, sneezing, etc.
Sciatic symptoms present differently for each person. Some may be in constant pain, while others may only feel pain occasionally.
Some will experience a dull ache, while others will suffer from intense pain shooting down the leg into the foot and toes. Most feel pain in only one leg, but others experience it in both, or have it switch from side to side.
Some individuals may also have a loss of bladder or bowel control. This is a sign of cauda equine syndrome, a rare but serious condition that requires emergency care. If you experience either of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Many people hope that sciatica will just go away, but that rarely happens. Typically, sciatica becomes progressively worse over time, and may result in serious complications if untreated, including:
Loss of feeling in the affected leg
Paralysis of the affect limbs
Loss of bowel or bladder function
Permanent nerve damage
The chiropractic approach to sciatica is to find the source of the pain and correct the problem. Then the body can heal naturally without drugs or surgery. Sciatica can often be eliminated with the restoration of normal spinal function through chiropractic care
British researchers who followed patients with a variety of back related problems for over three years found that those who received chiropractic care experienced better results and missed less time from work than those patients who received traditional medical treatments.1
A 2010 Canadian clinical trial compared the results achieved with spinal manipulation with those realized with surgery in patients suffering from sciatica caused by a disc herniation. The findings suggest that for more than half of people suffering from sciatica caused by a herniated disc, non-surgical spinal manipulation was equally effective as surgery.
Those patients who do not respond to non-invasive, less expensive chiropractic care can then choose to try a surgical remedy. The researchers concluded that “the obvious risk and cost profile of operative care argues for serious physician and patient consideration of spinal manipulative therapy before surgical intervention.”2
Your treatment will vary according to the specific source of your sciatic pain and the severity of your condition. With most patients, chiropractic adjustments and muscle stretching will improve the range or motion and function of the spine and will remove the pressure on the sciatic nerve. As you receive a series of adjustments, over time the vertebra should remain in their proper position and no longer impinge on the nerve
At Chiropractor Plus, we have a variety of natural therapies that may also assist in your healing process. If you have a herniated disc, Dr. Greenwood may recommend spinal decompression therapy. The length of your treatment and therapies recommended will vary depending on the severity of your condition.
Don't wait! Call your chiropractor in Nixa at 417-725-6655 or click on the link below to make your appointment and start on the road to healing today!
1. Low Back Pain of Mechanical Origin: Randomized Comparison of Chiropractic and Hospital Outpatient Treatment, T.W. Meade, Sandra Dyer, Wendy Browne, Joy Townsend, A.O. Frank, British Medical Journal, Volume 300, June 2, 1990, Pages 1431-1437.
2. Mcmorland, Gordon, Esther Suter, Steve Casha, Stephan J. Du Plesis, and R. John Huribert, “Manipulation of Microdiskectomy for Sciatica? A Prospective Randomized Clinical Study.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 33.8 (2010): 576-84. Web.