If you experience piercing or shooting pain anywhere from your low back to your hamstrings and legs, you may be suffering from sciatica. Affecting nearly one in ten adults in the US, sciatica is as common as it is debilitating, but there is hope. We’ve got at least seven ways a chiropractor can help relieve your sciatica.
What Causes Sciatica?
Also called referred or radiating pain, sciatica is not a disorder but rather the term used to describe a set of symptoms. It is a kind of neuropathy, damage to the nerves beyond the spinal cord and brain. Pain results when the sciatic nerve (which runs from the base of the spine and down each of the legs) is compressed. It can be caused by a number of things:
- Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back.
- Degenerative disc disease wears away at the discs between vertebrae.
- Spondylolisthesis is the medical term for when one vertebra slips forward over another.
- Piriformis syndrome describes a spasming or tightening of the piriformis muscle, which runs above the sciatic nerve. It can be injured in a slip or a fall. If the muscle cramps, it can pinch the sciatic nerve.
- Pregnancy adds strain on the spine
- General wear and tear on the lower spine happens naturally with age, excess weight, or poor alignment
Chiropractic Care for Sciatica
Our chiropractors at Rock Spine and Rehabilitation have lots of experience providing relief for sciatica. Our tried-and-true chiropractic methods can mitigate symptoms and ease pressure on spinal nerves with treatments that are natural and gentle.
The first step to relieving sciatica is to know its source. Your chiropractor can look at your alignment, lifestyle, and health history to find what’s causing you pain. From there, we can find sciatica solutions that are poignant and specific to you.
Commonly known as chiropractic adjustment, spinal manipulation involves a combination of gentle and quick thrusting movements, usually to the spine, to realign your skeleton. It is not painful and leads to a lessening of sciatica and other pain. Spinal manipulation can restore limited spinal mobility and neuromuscular communication.
Sometimes discs are damaged, as is the case with herniated or bulging discs. Sometimes they dry out naturally over the course of time, causing them to thin. Either way, flawed discs can put pressure on spinal nerves. Spinal decompression works to relieve that pressure and realign the spine so that the body’s other systems can be optimized. It allows discs to move back into place so they stop irritating the nerves in your spine. Spinal decompression uses techniques to increase the space between discs and lengthen the spine for more lasting relief.
Chiropractic Massage Therapy
Chiropractic massage therapy is more than just relaxing. Its purpose is to trigger the release of endorphins, which act as the body’s natural painkillers, and to invoke deep muscle relaxation. This can resolve spasming and cramping in the muscles and resultant sciatica pain.
Heat and Cold Therapies
Though both are not always recommended, heat and cold therapies usually work best in tandem to alleviate sciatica. Heat releases the tightness in muscles while cold slows blood flow to reduce inflammation. Your chiropractor will know the best alternating schedule for your sciatica.
Ultrasound treatments for sciatica use soundwaves outside of human reception to penetrate deeply into muscle tissue and generate a very mild heat. This stimulates circulation and the body’s natural ability to manage its own healing. It also minimizes muscle cramping and spasming, both of which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Our chiropractors have a sturdy knowledgebase of exercises that will relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve without aggravating it. Gentle stretching can release tightness in muscles that may be cramping or inflamed and pressing on the nerve, and mild and consistent exercises can strengthen your core and back muscles to relieve any posture-related compression leading to sciatica.
Because we care about lasting solutions for your sciatica, your chiropractor will work with you to discover any changes in your lifestyle that will bring enduring relief. These can include recommendations for better posture when sitting, standing, or sleeping to strengthen your back and reduce risk of disc damage.
Don’t let sciatica pain rule your life. Call us at Rock Creek Spine and Rehabilitation to find relief.