Chiropractic Care and Sciatica: How a Chiropractor Can Help?
Scoliosis affects the way your body moves and can cause severe pain. It most often occurs in the lower back, but may also be found in the neck, shoulders, or hips. Sciatica is a type of scoliosis that causes pain along one leg due to pressure on nerves in the spine caused by herniated discs or spinal stenosis. The pain may range from mild discomfort to unrelenting pain with symptoms such as: shooting pains down one leg; burning sensation that feels like you've splashed boiling water along your back; limited mobility; reduced quality of life; and inability to enjoy everyday life.
Most people think of a chiropractor as someone who only helps with back pain. The truth is that, in the hands of an experienced and skilled chiropractic doctor, just about any ailment can be helped including sciatica. It is not caused by anything to do with your spine, but from pressure on nerves in the lower back or pelvis.
The most common treatments chiropractors may offer including the following:
Physical Therapy and Activity
If you don't have any severe symptoms for sciatica, doctors will usually recommend meeting up with a physical therapist or chiropractor. These professionals can help reduce pain while strengthening muscles by subjecting you to physical activities that grow in intensity over time. They'll also be able to show you how to perform stretches and exercises on your own allowing you to continue the therapy without assistance. Sciatica can be a recurring problem and it takes a lot of effort to get over the pain.
Getting into physical activities can help reduce sciatica, but for the best results you'll need to take a multipronged approach with noninvasive treatments. Severe sciatica may require surgery. However, it would be best to try other means to treat sciatica because if you treat the causes of sciatica you would prevent it from recurring.
It's important to get moving when dealing with sciatica because it typically requires a more complicated treatment plan than just exercises. Along with exercise, other steps are needed such as doing gentle stretching and massage therapy outside of your comfort zone.
These non-invasive approaches include:
- Ice and Cold Therapy - Sciatica is a painful condition that significantly impacts the quality of life for those who suffer from it. One treatment option is to apply heat or ice and take over-the counter pain medications, which are usually effective in treating this condition. To begin, try cold packs initially to reduce inflammation. Apply an ice pack to the painful areas for about 20 minutes several times a day. After two or three days, apply heat with a heat lamp or heating pad on the lowest setting. Alternating warm and cold packs may provide some relief as well.
- Ultrasound - Ultrasound treatment penetrates deep into muscles, increasing circulation while reducing muscle spasms, swelling, and sciatic pain. It also stimulates blood flow to the area which can reduce the inflammation of muscles that may cause pain for you.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation - A muscle stimulating machine that uses electric current to control pain and reduce muscle cramps. TENS works by sending electronic pulses through the skin to stimulate nerve endings in the body, creating an analgesic effect while also reducing muscle spasms.
The TENS Unit has been around for over 100 years as a means of controlling pain and alleviating muscle cramps. It works by sending electrical impulses through your skin via electrodes on sticky pads, which create an analgesic effect; this allows people with chronic back pain, arthritis or fibromyalgia to do their daily activities without experiencing debilitating levels of discomfort or pain.
- Spinal Manipulation - Chiropractors may perform adjustments to your spine, restoring misaligned vertebral bodies to their original position, relieving sciatic pain long-term. This can be done by gently twisting or rotating the spine and neck in order to restore natural alignment between the vertebrae.
Some patients feel immediate relief after an adjustment while others will need adjustments on a regular basis before feeling significant improvement in their condition.
Chiropractic care is a holistic approach to healing that looks at all aspects of one's life. If you are extremely overweight or obese, there is a chance that losing weight can significantly change the pressure on your sciatic nerve. For those who are overweight, or obese, there are other benefits to losing weight. However, for sciatica, the benefits of losing weight is immediate and long-term.
Stretching can also provide relief from sciatica. Doing stretches that target the lower back and hips, and careful arm and leg lifts from a lying down position can help stretch muscles and tissues surrounding the sciatic nerve. This will relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve as well as alleviate shooting pains.
There are small things that a person can do that can help relieve sciatica. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the back muscles. A good posture while sitting or when standing for long periods, and wearing shoes with support can also help to lessen or prevent the pain from shooting unexpectedly. A common trigger for pain is when lifting heavy objects. Plenty of people would bend at the waist to lift heavy objects. This can easily lead to back problems and pain. Whether you have back pain or not, the best way to lift heavy objects is to squat down and lift using the legs.
Sciatica pain can be debilitating, and though it's common, that's no reason you should tolerate it and suffer. With a proper diagnosis, you can receive long-term pain-relief in no time, and chiropractors can help you with every step of the way—relieving sciatica pain and helping you get back to enjoying life in no time.