More than 17% of American adults report experiencing severe levels of pain on a regular basis.
The causes of severe pain include everything from trauma to arthritis and even cancer. Sciatica is a painful symptom in approximately 5% of low back pain cases.
If you’re between the ages of 30 and 50, you’re at a higher risk for developing sciatic nerve pain. A sciatica adjustment may be all that’s needed to see that nerve pain away.
In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly what sciatica is and the many ways to treat it. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Sciatica?
Also known as referred pain, neuralgia, and neuropathy, the main characteristic of sciatica is pain that radiates from the low back or buttock to one or both legs. Although, in most cases, only one side of the body is affected by the radiating pain.
The pain is described as being achy, toothache-like and dull. Some people report the feeling of pins and needles or even electric shocks.
Other sciatica symptoms include:
- constant pain in one side of the buttock
- weakness, numbness, or mobility problems with the leg or foot
- difficulty standing due to shooting pain
- pain in the legs that’s worse when sitting
The severity of pain caused by sciatica varies across patients. Pain can range from mild to severe. The frequency also varies between occasional, intermittent, frequent, and constant or chronic.
As the sciatic nerve is constantly compressed, symptoms can worsen. Long-term sciatic nerve compression can result in sensory loss or the loss of feeling in the affected limbs.
It can also cause paralysis in a limb or group of muscles. Because of the discomfort sciatic pain causes, it often causes sleep disorders such as insomnia.
What Causes Sciatica?
While some people believe that sciatica is a nerve disorder, it’s not. Sciatic is actually a symptom of a disorder or some other condition.
Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. Disorders most commonly associated with the development of sciatic pain are:
- Spinal stenosis which causes the spinal canal to narrow at the low back
- Lumbar spine subluxations
- Herniated, bulging discs, or degenerative disc disease which causes a loss of cushion for the vertebrae
- Spondylolisthesis which causes one vertebra to slip over another
- Pregnancy and childbirth which adds weight and strain on the spine
- Non-spinal disorders such as constipation or diabetes
Being overweight or obese can cause nerve compression. Not exercising on a regular basis can also prolong nerve compression pain. Even sleeping on a soft mattress can cause sciatic pain.
With all the potential causes of sciatica, it’s important to see a chiropractor for an accurate and professional diagnosis. A chiropractor reviews your medical history and performs both a physical and neurological evaluation. This can involve x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and electrodiagnostic exams.
Once a chiropractor understands the underlying cause of sciatic pain, they can recommend the right course of physical rehabilitation and treatment. One of the more common forms of sciatic nerve relief is a sciatica adjustment.
What is a Sciatica Adjustment?
Doctors can prescribe pain medications for sciatica pain. There are also over the counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories that offer some relief.
Treating pain this way only brings temporary relief. Instead, an examination from a chiropractor determines the underlying cause of sciatica. By treating the underlying cause, you have a better chance of long term sciatic nerve relief.
One popular method of treating sciatic nerve pain is a sciatica adjustment. Also known as spinal manipulation, this treatment is performed by a chiropractor and it improves the body’s ability to heal itself.
Chiropractic medicine is based on the belief that pain and mobility issues are caused by restricted spinal movements. Adjusting the spine fixes the issues behind those restricted movements, such as misaligned vertebral bodies in the spinal column.
A painless and non-invasive treatment, spinal adjustment are safe, effective, and drug-free. They reduce nerve irritability and, in so doing, reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, pain, and other sciatica symptoms.
What Other Sciatica Nerve Treatment Is There?
Depending on what’s causing your sciatica, your chiropractor or doctor may recommend another course of treatment. Alternative treatments for sciatic nerve relief include ice/cold therapies, TENS, and spinal decompression therapy.
You should be aware of how to treat sciatic nerve pain in other ways. We’ve described the potential alternatives below:
Spinal Decompression Therapy
A nonsurgical, noninvasive specialized therapy that involves stretching the spine, using a traction table or similar motorized device, with the goal of relieving pain.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
This portable muscle-stimulating machine sends electrical currents through the body to control acute pain and muscle spasms. There are at-home versions as well as larger units used by chiropractors and other rehab professionals.
Performed by chiropractors and physical therapists, cold therapy is used to reduce blood flow to a particular area of the body. This reduces inflammation as well as swelling to control sciatic pain.
In this therapy, sound waves are used to target deep tissue, increase circulation, and reduce pain, stiffness, cramps, and spasms.
Surgery can correct any internal issues that are causing compression on the nerve. This option isn’t usually explored until all other options have been exhausted.
In some cases, sciatic nerve pain is caused by something that’s beyond what your chiropractor can help you with. Your chiropractor can recommend another course of treatment and refer you to the right specialist. They may also co-manage your condition with the other specialist.
Are You In Constant Pain?
Though some people think of sciatica as a disorder, it’s actually a symptom of another problem. This is why consulting a chiropractor is so important. A chiropractor determines the underlying cause of your sciatica, giving you a better chance at long term relief.
And your chiropractor can offer more than sciatica adjustments and spinal decompression therapy. They also have a network of specialists they can consult as well as alternative treatments such as TENS and ultrasounds.
If you’re suffering from sciatic nerve pain, let us help you get relief. Learn more about us and how we can help.