Sciatica is an extremely common disorder that can leave an individual in excruciating pain. Often times, sciatica goes unidentified or untreated until an individual absolutely has to see a professional to ease the pain. We’re going to discuss this disorder today in addition to exploring your options for sciatica treatment. Hopefully, you can get a better idea of how to identify your pain, understand sciatica, and know where to go when you want to get treatment.
The Basics of Sciatica
If you’re not totally sure of what sciatica is, let’s take a brief crash-course on how it occurs and what you’ll experience if you have it.
The sciatic nerve runs all of the way from the hips down to the feet, moving down along the back of each leg. The fact that the nerve is so long and widespread is a big part of why “sciatica” can be hard to identify.
Pain along this nerve could occur in the lower back, hips, or all of the way down your legs. Additionally, sciatica isn’t always excruciating at first, so some people allow it to develop without being seen by a professional.
Sciatic pain can occur in a number of ways. Most commonly, a person with sciatica will feel some sort of shooting pain down the leg, burning, a sharp stabbing feeling, numbness, or reduced function or sensation along the leg. These symptoms can run anywhere along the leg up to the hip.
Most people feel these symptoms along one side of the body, but it’s possible to feel sciatic pains on both sides. When symptoms occur, one might feel them for a month or two before they subside. A person could also have lasting symptoms that persist and develop into something much worse.
What Causes Sciatica?
A person can get sciatica in a number of ways. All of the causes, however, involve some sort of undue pressure on the sciatic nerve. Degenerative disc disease, slipped discs, pregnancy, and tumors are all possible causes.
If you have general back problems or you’ve experienced an injury to your back or spine recently, sciatica is a potential result of those issues.
Options for Sciatica Treatment
There are a number of ways that people can treat sciatic pain. Some individuals try and treat the pain themselves hoping that it will go away naturally.
These people might purchase over-the-counter pain medication, try to get some rest, and practice stretches and exercises that aim to improve the function and sensation of the leg.
Methods like these might help to ease the general pain of sciatica for a while. It’s important to understand the disorder, though, and realize that there’s a very real cause of the pain. It’s not like a free-floating headache that will go away with Tylenol and some rest.
Sciatica is an issue caused by some kind of pressure to the sciatic nerve. Typically, that pressure comes from a misalignment in the spinal column. Those issues don’t tend to readjust by themselves, meaning you will be stuck with debilitating sciatic pain in the long run.
Exercises and medications are tools to help you recover but they shouldn’t be the bread and butter of your treatment.
The Chiropractor Should Be Your First Stop
If you feel the symptoms of sciatica you should schedule an appointment with a chiropractor. You might not be able to identify the pain and schedule an appointment with a general practitioner instead, but hopefully, that person will direct you to a chiropractor.
Sciatica is an issue that chiropractors deal with all of the time. It’s a disorder that can occur with very little warning for a lot of people, and chiropractors are extremely skilled at treating it.
A chiropractor can identify and address the underlying issue that’s causing sciatica instead of just treating the pain. Treating the cause might involve a simple spinal adjustment, some spinal manipulation, a massage, or ice/cold therapy. You should also expect to engage in a physical therapy program during your recovery.
In extreme cases, a person might have to have spinal surgery. This typically only happens when there are no other options and the pain is unbearable.
Tips for Preventing Sciatica
It may seem like sciatica is just an unavoidable thing that happens out of the blue. While some cases of sciatica come from injury or just pop up, there are a number of things that you can do to prevent sciatica from developing.
Aging normally causes your muscles, bones, and spine to shift and degrade slowly. Those factors make it more likely for something to slip and cause your sciatic nerve to get pressed or damaged in the process.
Many age-related issues can be prevented by making positive changes to your lifestyle. One of the most significant things for preventing sciatica is maintaining a healthy weight.
Extra weight puts added pressure onto your spine and back muscles, making them more prone to issues. Anything that helps to strengthen or protect your spine will help you fight off sciatica.
The same goes for the muscles that happen to work with or around your spine. Namely, you should work to strengthen your back and core muscles. A strong core can keep your torso tight and in great shape to deal with strenuous situations that could hurt your back.
Speak with your chiropractor about back and core-strengthening exercises you can use in your sciatica treatment.
A final note on the prevention of sciatica is to be mindful of your posture when performing strenuous tasks. Work in the weight room, for example, can be extremely risky for your back.
Performing heavy squats or deadlifts with the wrong posture can quickly shift and damage your spine, causing sciatica. You could also incur more significant damage to your spine that requires surgery.
Need Some Help Recovering?
Whether you’re looking for sciatica treatment or your back is just feeling a little off lately, we’re here to help you. Working with a chiropractor is the best way to address significant issues with your back and spine.
Contact us for more information on how to get started today.