The Sciatic Nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body. So it is no surprise that sciatic pain can impact your quality of life in a big way. When there is pressure on the sciatic nerve, located in the lower back and running down the back of the thighs and calves to the feet, symptoms can vary widely. For some, sciatica presents itself as shooting or radiating pain, for others it manifests as numbness or tingling to the feet. One thing is for sure though, it is uncomfortable and can make moving about your daily routine difficult at times.
Sciatica can occur for a variety of reasons. A bulging or herniated disc, compression in the lumbar spine, and even pregnancy can cause pressure on the nerve. Injury or muscle strain can also cause symptoms. Incidence of sciatica is also often brought on by the modern lifestyle- sitting for long periods of time at a desk, at home, or in the car, which causes abnormal tightness in the hamstrings and psoas muscles in the groin and hip region.
The good news is, treating sciatic pain may be easier than you think. The traditional model of medicine would suggest bed-rest, some pain medications, and possibly surgical intervention. However, in many cases this may not be the best long-term solution. Although these options may provide short term relief, symptoms often return if the underlying cause of the pressure on the sciatic nerve is not addressed.
Chiropractic care takes a more proactive approach to alleviating the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Careful diagnosis of the underlying cause of sciatica pain with x-rays and physical examinations will help your chiropractor recommend the best course of treatment to provide long-term relief. Here are 5 ways chiropractic approaches sciatic pain treatment:
- Chiropractic Adjustments
Misalignment of the lumbar spine can create pressure points- commonly referred to as pinched nerves or a subluxation- on the sciatic and surrounding nerves. Focused chiropractic adjustments can realign the lumbar vertebrae to remove the pressure on the nerve. A series of adjustments will work to rebalance and stabilize the spinal column in proper alignment, and allow the pinched nerve to heal itself. Following up with maintenance chiropractic care will help keep subluxations from reoccurring.
- Physical Therapy
When sciatic pain is caused or made worse by muscle imbalances, physical therapy can provide relief from acute flare-ups and beyond. When sciatica is chronic or acute, your physical therapist can help relax the muscles of the low back with focused and proven therapies for quick relief. E-Stim, Ultrasound, Hot Packs, and Ice Applications can all relax the muscle quickly. When pain begins to subside, your physical therapist will provide you with targeted exercises, stretches, and home care tools to rebalance and strengthen the muscles in the low back, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Physical therapy in conjunction with chiropractic and myofascial massage techniques can be a very effective trifecta of care for sciatica and many other pain issues.
- Decompression Traction Therapy
This specialized and non-invasive physical therapy treatment is extremely effective in treating herniated and bulging discs and compression of the spine that causes sciatic pain. Patients utlitizing this therapy simply lay on the decompression table, and the low back is stretched very slowly and gently. As the table stretches the low back, pressure is alleviated from the lumbar spine and compressed discs are able to naturally slip back in to place. With each subsequent treatment, the lumbar discs and muscles begin to relax and normal spacing in the vertebrae begins to restore. Decompression Traction Therapy is shown to be over 86% effective in treating sciatic pain. No pills. No surgery. Just relief.
- Massage Therapy
Tight muscles in the low back and legs can be a cause of sciatica, and when that is the case massage therapy can provide relief. A licensed massage therapist will focus on working out adhesions, calcifications, and stiffness in the lumbar, glute, and hamstring area. Using myofascial release and trigger point therapy to relax and release the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve, inflammation and pain are greatly reduced.
When inflammation and injury are causing sciatic pain, acupuncture can provide significant relief. This ancient form of Chinese medicine works to increase blood flow and circulation at specific acupressure points on the body. By stimulating the acupressure points related to the sciatic nerve, blood flow is enhanced and inflammation reduced. As a form of sports medicine, acupuncture can be an effective complimentary treatment option for acute and chronic pain relief.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to sciatica treatment. Discussing your symptoms with your chiropractor will help him to diagnosis your specific issue in conjunction with a physical exam and radiological images. Your customized treatment plan will be focused on addressing the root cause of your sciatic pain. With focused care you should be feeling better in no time!
Senara Health and Healing Center, located in Peoria, Illinois, offers a multidimensional approach to chiropractic and wellness care. Using the latest advancements in spinal and holistic health, they advance their mantra, Live Life Well, to their guests. Established as Kramer Chiropractic in 2002, the facility moved and expanded it’s services in late 2011 to Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa.