You feel the pain in your hip, your lower back, and even down your leg.
It’s sharp, like a needle, and you’re starting to feel numbness in your leg and foot. It gets worse at different times during the day, but icing and heat aren’t helping. What you do know is that it’s getting worse, and you’re not sure how to deal with it.
You actually may have sciatica, a common, but treatable condition. Before you pop a pill or assume you need surgery, consider seeing a chiropractor for sciatica. Read on for five reasons why chiropractic treatment can bring great results.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a painful condition in which the sciatic nerve and surrounding muscles become inflamed and swollen. It usually affects one side of the body, and the pain can range from irritating to debilitating. Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disc, or by other spinal dysfunctions, such as spinal stenosis.
Another possible cause is piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle connects your lower spine to your thigh bone. In this rare syndrome, your piriformis muscle involuntarily contracts or tightens, causing sciatica.
Sciatica is not necessarily an “old-folks” problem. The most common sciatica patient is between the ages of 30 and 50. Sciatica is also common in pregnant women, and people with a sedentary lifestyle.
Seeing a chiropractor for your sciatica can help you heal in several non-invasive ways that are worth exploring.
The subluxation technique is the main way chiropractors treat sciatica. The layman’s term for this treatment is spinal manipulation or spinal adjustment.
In this method, chiropractors use minimal force and gentle pressure to manipulate vertebra and joints. The motions used in an adjustment are swift and might seem scary at first. But, the relief can be immediate.
The goal of this type of therapy is to adjust the spine back into its original position, which will then take the pressure off the sciatic nerve. This allows the muscles around the sciatic nerve to heal, while inflammation, pain, and numbness lessen.
Once your pain lessens, a chiropractor can use a mechanical traction table to help restore blood flow between the vertebrae. This treatment improves the range of motion in your spine by further decompressing the area between your vertebrae.
Chiropractors often work in tandem with chiropractic massage therapists. This type of massage is very different from a traditional spa massage.
A chiropractic massage focuses the entire musculoskeletal system, including the spine. Chiropractic massage therapists have extensive training in anatomy and spinal health.
Spa therapists concentrate more on soft-tissue massage and total body relaxation. They do not have the tools necessary to address a spine alignment or a compressed nerve.
Before an adjustment, a chiropractic massage therapist will apply gentle, yet direct pressure to your sore spots to loosen them up. A massage of this nature can help the actual chiropractic process occur more easily.
Chiropractic Modalities for Sciatica
Chiropractors have other types of healing modalities at their disposal that can help you with sciatica pain. Some of these include:
- Ultrasound: Uses sound waves via a wand to increase circulation and get rid of muscle spasms.
- Cold-Laser Therapy: Uses a type of laser to reduce inflammation and swelling.
- TENS Device: This stands for “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Device.” A TENS unit is a small tool that uses a tiny electric current to relax muscle spasms and release endorphins.
- Hydrotherapy: Uses the gentle resistance of water to build and tone muscle. Water aerobics and swimming are types of hydrotherapy. Your chiropractor may have a hydrotherapy table on-site to use in your treatment.
- Ergonomics: Chiropractors can teach you how to correct your posture. A chiropractor can also help you add efficient, or “ergonomic” movement into your everyday activities. Learning to move better will protect your spine.
Other in-office treatments include heat and cold packs and gentle exercises. These modalities enhance and encourage healing both during and after your chiropractic treatment.
Personalized Stretching Program
Your chiropractor can give you a set of stretching exercises that will help strengthen the muscles in your back, hip, and buttock area. Gentle, restorative styles of yoga can help, as well as easy stretches you can do at home.
Your chiropractor will be able to show you how to stretch, and what types of stretches to avoid while recovering. The object of stretching is to keep muscles flexible and to keep the spine from compressing any further. Stretching can build strength and better support from these muscles as well.
Gentle, targeted stretching is an important part of the healing process. Make sure you stick to your stretching routine, so your healing is long-term and complete.
No Drugs Needed
Over-the-counter pain killers are often used to relieve the pain of sciatica. In severe cases, you might need a prescription drug to dull the pain.
But, once you consult your chiropractor for treatment, you might not need any kind of drugs at all. Avoiding dependence on such drugs is one of the goals of chiropractic medicine.
While painkillers treat the main symptom of sciatica, that is, the pain, chiropractic care aims to treat the source of the pain. By treating the cause of your pain, you can be healed from the inside, and that healing is often permanent.
See a Chiropractor for Sciatica
When pain and numbness become too much, it is time to visit a chiropractor for sciatica. Through this type of treatment, normal movement is restored, and pressure on nerves is relieved.
Chiropractic treatment usually takes place over several visits. The amount of visits depends on the severity and cause of your pain. Many people visit their chiropractor at regular intervals even after the pain is gone, as a preventative measure. There is some evidence to suggest that chiropractic treatment boosts the immune system, as well.
If you live in the greater Houston area, contact us for an appointment to discuss how chiropractic treatment can help you with pain.