Sciatic nerve pain, also called sciatica, causes a compression of a spinal nerve root. Also known as a “pinched” nerve, sciatica in the lower spine that can affect the back, hips, or legs. This compression often causes the degeneration of an intervertebral disk, or the soft cushioning between the bones of your spine. In severe cases, sciatica can cause such an excruciatingly sharp and shooting pain. Standing and/or sitting is near impossible. It may also cause an uncomfortable “pins and needles” sensation down your legs into your toes. Less commonly, sciatic nerve pain may prevent you from easily bending your knee or flexing your foot.
Though many think sciatic nerve pain and sciatica is a disorder, it is actually a symptom of various other disorders. Conditions such as spondylolisthesis—when a vertebra slips out of alignment with the one above it, consequentially narrowing the opening through which your nerves travel—can cause sciatica as well. Piriformis syndrome is caused by spasms in the piriformis muscle, located in the lowest part of your spine. This can cause irritation and inflammation of the nearby sciatic nerve causing similar pain.
Sudden Sciatic Pain may occur without warning, or it can develop gradually over time. For example, a disc can slip with an accidental fall (a herniated disc). One can also develop a degenerative disc disease from years of smoking (a common cause of degeneration). Many pregnant women develop sciatica as well, as their lower backs are strained under the extra weight of childbearing.
How Seeing Your Chiropractor Can Help Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
By doing physical therapy, one can find specific exercises to decrease sciatic pain. These exercises can relieve pressure on the pinched nerve naturally. These exercises may include certain stretches to improve flexibility of tightened muscles or more common aerobic exercises, such as walking. However, by visiting your chiropractor, one with sciatica may be able to combat the problem quickly and effectively, without any medication and with only a few visits. Below are several common chiropractic treatments for sciatica.
- Decompression therapy is a nonsurgical spinal therapy that works by gently stretching the spine, helping to change or straighten its position. This therapy takes the severe pressure off the nerves in your spine and in turn, allows the inflamed or herniated disks to heal.
- Spinal manipulation or adjustments can also help patients with sciatica. Chiropractic manipulation frees restricted movement and helps restore misaligned vertebra to their proper position in your spinal column, also relieving the pressure on your spinal nerves.
- Other treatments, such as cold therapy, ultrasound, and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) may be used as well, depending on the severity of your sciatica.
The goal of chiropractic treatment is to decrease sciatic nerve pain while simultaneously increasing your mobility. Whether your sciatica is simply irritating or whether it is debilitating, a chiropractor can help you decide what treatment best suits your needs.
Contact us to learn more about chiropractic care and scheduling to see a chiropractor today.