Sciatica

Signs and Symptoms

  • pain that radiates from the lower back into the buttock, down the back of the leg

  • pain can be mild or extremely severe, and can be made worse by a cough sneeze, or if straining in the bathroom

  • other symptoms include numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and foot drop in severe cases. 

Causes

Sciatica is caused by compression of one or more of the 5 sets of nerve roots in the lower back. This compression can occur in the low back or at the piriformis muscle (deep in the buttock). There are also several risk factors associated with sciatica: age, obesity, prolonged sitting, and diabetes.

The Medical Approach

Many doctors initially suggest that the "wait and see" method of sciatica treatment is most effective. When the pain does not subside, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, narcotics, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications for off-label effects might be prescribed. In severe cases, steroid injections can be used to suppress inflammation around the irritated nerve. When nerve compression is causing significant muscle weakness, or loss of bladder control, surgeons can try spinal surgery to remove bone spurs from the effected nerve root. 

The Non-Medical Approach 

The non-medical approach to treating sciatica includes the following: 

  • Physical therapy: By strengthening weak muscles, and stretching tight ones, sciatic symptoms are sometimes lessened.

  • Cold packs: In the beginning phase of sciatica, ice packs placed on the painful area for 20-minute intervals can deliver some temporary relief.

  • Stretching: Your lower back at home nigh relieve some nerve root compression but in the case of disc related sciatica it can further inflame the disc tissue and make symptoms worse. 

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture has also been shown to relieve sciatic nerve pain.

The Chiropractic Approach 

The chiropractic adjustment has been shown to be one of the safest and most effective standard treatments for lower back pain. By taking pressure off of the nerve roots that feed into the sciatic nerve, the result is a nerve that functions as intended without pain and is able to provide muscles with full strength down the leg. 

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