There is a lot of misinformation in the general public surrounding sciatica. Do you know what it is, and whether you’re treating it properly?
Many people think sciatica is a medical condition that describes back and leg pain. There are misconceptions around the causes and how to treat it; with many believing there’s a “one size fits all” approach to alleviating it.
Contrary to popular belief, sciatica is not a medical condition. Instead, it’s a collection of symptoms, with the cause differing for every patient. Sciatica relates to the compression of your sciatic nerve by other parts of your spine. Everyone has two sciatic nerves, which run from each side of the lower spine through the buttocks, into the back of the thighs, and down to the feet.
This is why some people feel it in their lower back and buttocks, while others notice it in the back of their legs, feet, and toes. It can be a minor irritation with tingling and burning; or severe, with sharp and searing pain. It usually affects one side and feels better when you lie down or walk, but worsens when standing or sitting. Depending on where the nerve compression occurs, the location of sciatic pain can differ.
Therefore, the treatment focus for sciatica is not on the pain area, but on what is causing that nerve compression in the first place. Common causes include herniated or bulging lumbar discs (slipped discs), pregnancy and childbirth, lumbar degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spinal tumours, among other conditions.
Treatment options are as varied as the causes and discomfort levels, which is why it’s crucial to see a medical professional, such as a chiropractor. You will need an individual treatment plan that caters to your unique situation, not sciatica symptoms as a whole. The purpose of chiropractic treatment is to help the body to heal itself without surgery or drugs.
Some people may find that chiropractic treatments such as ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and adjustments work best to reduce inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain. Other people see the benefit in heat and ice therapy, and other non-surgical options such as gentle physical exercise and stretching. Your medical professional will determine the best course of action.
The pain can disappear in a few weeks with a treatment plan, but that’s not always going to be the case. Some people suffer from sciatic symptoms for weeks, if not months. In that situation, you may need to try several different treatment options.
What works for someone else may not be suitable for you, as everyone’s sciatic pain cause can be different.
See a chiropractor before you self-diagnose and self-treat. Their expertise can see you on the road to recovery, while also picking up any potentially serious problems that could see you out of action in the future.