Updated: Jan 25
Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek out a healthcare professional. Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability we face. One of the possible causes of back pain is sciatica and sciatica nerve pain.
If you have suffered from sciatica, you understand how painful this condition can be. It’s important to understand what sciatica is, how it may present itself, and how a chiropractor can help through properly administered chiropractic care.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to discomfort involving the sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve travels from your lower back, past your hips and down each leg. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body so there are many ways one can experience irritation or compression. If the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, sciatica develops as a result.
Most people only experience sciatica on one side of their body. The pain can be mild or severe. The pain can be felt as an electric shock or as a deep aching pain. It can also cause your affected leg and foot to feel numb or weak.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica?
As with other conditions sciatica varies in its scope and severity. In many cases it can improve on its own. With more severe cases contacting a chiropractor is advised.
Examples of the most common symptoms include:
Headaches that start at the base of the skull
Lesser known symptoms include:
Chronic pain in shoulders, neck or head
Concentration and memory problems
Diagnosis and Treatment by a Chiropractor
Chiropractors are experts in back issues. This makes them the preferred choice in getting a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan. Some of the ways a chiropractor may address sciatica include:
The first step is to make an accurate diagnosis. In determining the diagnosis the chiropractor will review with you the history of the symptoms, where the pain is located, and when the condition started.
They are also interested in your medical history. X-rays may be part of the exam if needed. After a detailed exam, a comprehensive treatment plan will be provided.
Chiropractic adjustments are at the core of everything a chiropractor does. The goal of an adjustment is to make sure the spine is properly lined up. If the sciatic nerve has been irritated in some way, it’s possible the bones, ligaments, and tendons may not be in proper alignment.
A chiropractor can use manual adjustments to shift the spine into the right alignment. This could alleviate compression and pressure on the sciatic nerve that might be leading to the symptoms.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy is another option a chiropractor may use as part of the treatment plan. Alternating between hot and cold temperatures has been used to help people treat sciatic pain. Heat helps to release tight muscles that could be irritating the sciatic nerve. Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation that could be leading to the symptoms.
Massage therapy could also be part of the treatment plan. Massage therapy can also be used to calm nerves that could be contributing to the symptoms of sciatica. Massage therapy can also work to release lactic acid that can cause muscles to tighten.
Spinal decompression is another option for sciatica. The goal of spinal decompression is to slightly increase the amount of space between each individual vertebrae. If someone is dealing with sciatica, there is a chance that the vertebrae could be compressing the sciatic nerve. With spinal decompression, it’s possible to increase the amount of space surrounding certain nerves in the spinal column, alleviating symptoms.
Exercise may also be recommended as treatment for sciatica. Corrective exercises are commonly recommended to help patients strengthen the amount of support surrounding susceptible structures. In this case, a chiropractor can work with you to perform corrective exercises that can help strengthen the structure, support, and stability surrounding the sciatic nerve. By removing stress from the sciatic nerve, it may be possible to reduce these symptoms.
What You Can Do To Reduce The Risk of Developing Sciatica
There are steps that you can take to help reduce your risk of developing sciatica, or pain recurring. These include:
Take breaks during your workday. Sitting in the same position for long hours can aggravate sciatica. Get up from your desk and walk around some. Change your sitting positions throughout the day. You may find you’re in less pain by the end of the day.
Build up your back strength. Strengthening your back and core muscles will improve spinal support helping to reduce sciatica symptoms. Start with low impact exercises.
Stretch your hip and hamstring muscles. Tight muscles in your hips and hamstrings put pressure on your lower back. Simple stretching exercises have shown to help many individuals see significant improvement.
Try yoga. Yoga has many benefits, both physically and mentally. It can help improve your strength, balance and flexibility. Plus, you’ll get the great benefits of exercise and relaxation that come with yoga.
At Couve Health, our team works with our patients to determine a tailored plan of recovery based on a thorough examination. We are here to get you back to feeling better sooner than later.
If you’re experiencing lower back pain, our specialists can help. Book your appointment with Couve Health online by clicking here.