SCIATICA / SCIATIC NERVE PAIN
If you’re worried about your sciatica, you’ve come to the right place. And there’s good news: sciatica is fixable.
Sciatica is painful and scary. You think you’re going to have it forever. It affects every part of your life. You worry you might have to have surgery.
Different from “back pain,” which patients can usually pin point, sciatica symptoms vary widely—and often fluctuate in level of intensity depending on activity. It’s pain that’s hard to define. And it’s often dismissed as a symptom of age, or the result of moving incorrectly.
We’ve heard patients say they used to enjoy taking long walks but now they can’t because of numbness in their leg. Or they might say they feel depressed because they can’t exercise. They can’t exercise because they can’t bend down the way they used to. They know something’s wrong, but aren’t sure what.
They’re scared of what else they’ll lose if it doesn’t get better.
I’m glad that concern brings them in, because if sciatica isn’t treated, the damage can be irreversible.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pressure on the sciatic nerve. Literally, it’s a “compressed” sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve itself is a bundle of smaller nerves. Four feeder nerves exit both the right and left side of the L4 and L5 vertebrae, and then they join to form the larger sciatic nerve. This is the largest nerve that feeds the lower part of the body.
What causes sciatica?
But what causes something to put pressure on the nerve? Compression of the sciatic nerve is almost always caused from a misaligned bone in the spine.
When the bones of the spine shift, they can pinch those tiny feeder nerves. This “short circuits” nerve communication and causes pain in the lower back and hip area, gluts, and down the back of the leg.
A secondary effect of a misaligned spine is that the shifted bones will squeeze against the disk that acts as a cushion between the bones. Over time, they squeeze the disk enough until it bulges out from between the vertebrae. That bulging, or herniated, disk can press against one of the small root nerves that leads to the sciatic nerve. That creates symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, and even searing heat.
Whether it’s the bulging disk causing sciatic pain or the vertebrae itself putting pressure on the nerve, one thing remains the same; in both cases pain is present because of a misalignment in the spine.
Sciatica is often misdiagnosed as hip pain, lower back pain, bursitis, or piriformis syndrome. A misdiagnosis can lead to improper treatment. Stretches or exercises are often prescribed that actually worsen or prolong the condition! Sometimes, it’s as I’ve stated above, the pain is ignored because people accept pain as a normal part of live. But eventually symptoms worsen, forcing a doctor’s visit to get relief.
Can a chiropractor help sciatica?
Most sciatica is caused by structural problems in the spine that damage or herniate one or more of the discs between your vertebrae. When the vertebrae in the lower part of your spine get misaligned, that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Only about 10 percent of the nerves in your body feel pain, and the sciatic nerve is one of them. It’s the biggest nerve in your body and it feels pain in a big way.
There are a couple simple tests we need to do to figure out if your sciatica is a structural chiropractic problem. If it is, that’s good news for you. It’s a relatively easy fix. With careful, specific adjustments to the lower part of your spine, we can eliminate your sciatic pain completely.
There are other ways to deal with sciatica, such as stretching, medication, or even surgery. Some people choose to muscle through the pain and just wait for the sciatica go away. The problem with these approaches is that they do nothing to correct the underlying problem. So your sciatica will almost certainly come back.
Obviously you want to get rid of the symptoms. But let’s do that AND fix the underlying problem.
Medical treatment for sciatica:
Remember, sciatica, by definition, is compression of the sciatic nerve. The philosophy of medicine isn’t equipped to fix compressed nerves. Medicine simply doesn’t have an answer to the issue of pinched nerves or a bulging disk other than surgery. To avoid surgery for sciatica, physicians prescribe over-the-counter meds to reduce inflammation. If the pain doesn’t go away, they may recommend oral steroids or even steroid injections. Or maybe they’ll suggest physical therapy, knowing certain stretches help relieve the pain of sciatica.
But let’s think this through. We know sciatica is caused because a nerve is being compressed. How does covering up the pain release pressure from the nerve?
If all we do is treat the pain, the real problem continues to get worse. That’s going to lead to bigger problems. One of these “bigger problems” is degenerative arthritis. Arthritis will not only increase the pain, it will also radically reduce mobility.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a more permanent solution that can release the pressure from the nerve?
That’s what happens under structural chiropractic care.
How chiropractor treats sciatica:
Because this is a Gonstead Chiropractic office,when a patient comes in describing the symptoms of sciatica, we start with an x-ray to see what’s going on in the L4/L5 region of the spine. We also want to see the pelvis bone and the sacroiliac (SI) joint so we know where the misalignment occurs.
Next, we adjust the spine to take pressure off the nerve. It’s almost never a one-shot miracle cure. It usually takes a series of adjustments to realign the spine to its correct position and let the surrounding tissue heal. That means the nerves won’t be compressed.
Once the nerves are restored, the pain in the lower back, hips, glutes, and down the back of the leg is gone. You can get back to moving the way you should. And get back to doing the things you love-like exercising, playing with the kids, and being able to bend over and stand up without pain. You may even notice you’re sleeping better.
A few answers to FAQ about sciatica:
- Do I need a referral? You can come see Dr. Martin for relief from sciatica without a referral from your primary care doctor.
- Is an MRI necessary? If you already have an MRI, please bring it with you so Dr. Martin can review it. But you can come in even without one. Our treatments are x-ray based.
- Will it be this way forever? Take heart! You really can feel better. Soon, you can get back to doing the things you love to do.
- How long does it take? Most people start feeling pain relief within a few visits.
- Can sciatica really be fixed? YES, it’s possible to fix sciatica without drugs or surgery.
What are you waiting for?
This is not a gimmick or a sales pitch. This is about getting your life back.
The sooner you do something about your sciatica, the sooner you can get back to your normal life. Bending over to put on your shoes, having sex, getting up out of a chair, picking up your kid.
Your next step: Call us at 919-794-4455 or click here to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Martin. In our office, a consultation is a conversation, not a commitment. We’ll ask you about what’s going on, get a better understanding of your problem and talk about solutions. You can decide if you like our approach.
Sick of sciatica interferring with your life?
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At Precision Chiropractic of Durham, a consultation is a conversation, not a commitment.
Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Martin to see how Gonstead chiropractic care can help you reach your overall health and wellness goals.