What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the body’s largest nerve. It begins as a collection of nerve roots in the lower spine, then combines into one large nerve as it runs down the back of the thigh into the legs and feet.
Certain conditions can cause the sciatic nerve to become irritated:
•A trapped nerve in the spine that impacts the sciatic nerve
•Referral pain (meaning pain that originates elsewhere)
Sciatica is the condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated by the above conditions, and causes pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs.
Sciatica Symptoms and Pain
There are many different types and locations of pain caused by sciatica. Depending on the severity of the condition, patients we see in our Chiropractic clinic complain of mild, moderate and severe pain.
The most common forms of pain we treat are:
- Pain in one leg (sciatic pain rarely occurs in both legs)
- Lower back pain
- Pain in the center of the buttock
- Thigh pain
- Calf pain that radiates into the foot
Our patients describe their sciatic pain as being a sharp burning stabbing type of pain rather than a constant throbbing pain. Usually, the pain will occur with certain positions of the body such as sitting or standing.
Other symptoms our patients report are tingling and numbness, a prickly sensation down the affected leg, pressure, and weakness. As Chiropractors, we commonly advise our sciatica patients to keep moving as most report that the pain and other symptoms are reduced or non-existent when walking.
There are several treatments available that can help temporarily reduce the pain of sciatica. Many patients find relief with one or more of the following:
- Heat and ice
- Over the counter pain medications and ant-inflammatory drugs
- Prescription pain medications and ant-inflammatory drugs
- Steroid injections (for severe chronic cases)
While all of the above treatments can be helpful, some of them can have harmful side effects. At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, our Chiropractors offer sciatica patients a natural alternative to drugs and steroids.
When you first visit us at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, a full health history will be taken. As well, X-rays may be ordered so that we have a better idea of how your spine looks. Then, one of our specially trained chiropractors will work with you to provide spinal adjustments and manipulations that will aid in improved spinal column alignment. This alignment will help to resolve some of the underlying conditions that lead to sciatic nerve pain. Manual manipulations are also beneficial in creating a more healing environment.
Chiropractic treatments for sciatica are do not cause any pain and are much safer than treatment with drugs and steroid injections. Many of our patients report immediate improvement after their first treatment.
Our Chiropractors work in tandem with Registered Massage Therapists to provide a complete treatment that will have lasting long term benefits.
Stretching and Yoga
In combination with adjustments and manipulations, stretching is an important part of the treatments we offer our sciatica patients. In between adjustments and manipulations, stretching can help to keep the muscles relaxed and limber which will help to prolong the positive results of Chiropractic treatments.
We recommend patients to perform regular stretching exercises and/or yoga poses as a way of keeping muscles limber, and preventing the immobility that can exacerbate sciatica. Patients can do these stretches at home and there is no need to sign up for any special classes. Our Chiropractors will recommend the stretches she feels will be most helpful based on the needs of each individual patient.
Exercises for Sciatica
As part of your treatment plan, we will also recommend certain types of exercises to help you maintain the benefits of your Chiropractic treatments. These exercises can include the following:
•Core Muscle Strength Exercises to help strengthen the ab and back muscles that support the back. These exercises will target the muscles that can cause sciatica pain, by keeping them working smoothly and reduce the tightness that can lead to pain.
•Low Impact Aerobics can help keep your cardiovascular system working properly. This will facilitate improved absorption of nutrients within your body to promote healing of affected areas. Many of our patients report that their symptoms improve with regular cardio such as walking and swimming.
Surgical Treatment for Sciatica
In some severe cases of sciatica, surgery may be necessary. For patients who experience severe pain for more than six weeks that doesn’t respond to other treatments, surgery may be the only option. While
surgery is a drastic measure, some patients experience such a reduction in their ability to participate in normal everyday activities, that there’s no other choice.
There are two types of surgery that are normally performed for sciatica. The type of surgery is determined by factors such as the cause of the pain, the duration of the pain, and whether or not it is considered to be ‘emergency’ in nature.
This surgical procedure is performed when the sciatic pain is due to lumbar disc herniation. The surgeon will make a small incision and remove the portion of the nerve that is pinched leaving the rest of the disc intact. Micro discectomy has a very high rate of success – almost 95 percent of patients experience relief from sciatic pain after this procedure.
This surgical procedure is performed when a patient experiences a sudden drastic reduction in their ability to perform every day activities. In this situation, spinal stenosis is almost always the cause of the sciatica. The surgeon will remove portions of the bone and disc that are pinching the nerve root. The success rate of this procedure is between 70 and 80 percent in terms of relief from sciatic pain.
As you can see, sciatica is a condition that can range from mild to severe. While in very severe cases, surgery may be necessary, the Chiropractors at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage have a proven track record of being able to relieve the symptoms mild to moderate sciatica using natural techniques that include adjustments, manipulation, and exercise.