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Adam doesn’t know whether the pain he feels is related to an issue with his health or if he has some sort of disease. The pain in his leg that continuously occurs confuses him, especially when he knows what he is experiencing is called sciatica.
He has never heard of this term before and wondered what it is. Many people who are first diagnosed with sciatica are confused with this term. We are here to help you to understand exactly what it is.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom that occurs when you have something compressing on the sciatic nerve whether it’s a muscle or disc.
Sciatica is known as the pain which radiates along the sciatic nerve – the nerve that starts from your lower back and continues to your buttocks and down the back of your leg. Commonly, it affects only one side of your leg.
- Constant pain that occurs on one (it is rare that the pain occurs in both)
- It gets worse if you sit, but better if you lay down or go for a walk
- The pain can be defined as a burning sensation, tingling feeling, numbness, along with sharp pain or weakness
- The frequency varies, it can range from infrequent to a constant pain occurring in different locations
What can cause sciatica to occur? It may be a question you think about. According to several journals and medical publications, there are numerous reasons why sciatica occurs.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerves are pressed with a lot of causes. We have listed several causes that may happen to you and what causes sciatica:
- A herniated disk in your spine
- An overgrown bone that compressed the vertebrae
- Mass compression such as tumor
- Nerve damage caused by chronic disease such as diabetes
- Degenerative disc problems – related to aging, the ones who have inflammation in the discs are usually irritated more
- Fracture of the vertebrae, such as spondylolisthesis
- Narrowing of the spinal canal – called lumbar spine stenosis
- An irritation in your sacroiliac joint
How to treat it?
There are several ways to treat sciatica, it depends on the degree of severity and causes, but it is commonly divided into two treatments; the surgery and non-surgery treatment. But whether you decide to take the surgery or not, you first have to discuss all your treatment options with your doctor before you make your decision.
- The surgery treatment
It depends on the causes, several causes that requires the surgery are usually related to herniated disks in the lumbar.
- Non-surgery treatment
Your doctor may prescribe some painkillers to relieve the pain and lessen the frequency, the painkillers given to you are decided based off of the pain you are experiencing.
For pain that occurs acutely, there are a conservative treatment that can be used such as ice or heat to reduce the pain, commonly it is applied for 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off. It can be combined or just use one or the other.
- Steroid injections
The doctor may put some steroid injections into your spine. This treatment is usually chosen as a treatment for severe sciatica pain.
- Alternative sciatica treatment
There are many alternative treatments that can be useful to alleviate your pain.
Adjusting the spine and manipulation has to be performed by a professional chiropractor or osteopathic physician. Not everyone can perform this, make sure you have the best chiropractor to provide this treatment. It will help you to have more, and longer lasting relief from your sciatica pain. The provider may need to do some manual manipulation to assess the sciatica. There are several options for you to choose related to sciatica problems, such as:
The chiropractic adjustment, or known as chiropractic manipulation, is commonly performed by a professional chiropractor to treat lower back pain. Your abnormal vertebrae will be manipulated to reduce the subluxation and increase your range of motion, therefore it will improve the function and movement. But remember that this should ONLY be done by professional and licensed chiropractor.
Massage therapy can also be used by a chiropractor to reduce your tissue swelling which relates to your back pain and reduces the inflammation. Thus, it will improve the range of motion. Approximately 54% of healthcare providers will encourage massage therapy for their patients.
Traction will help to improve the disc decompression and stretch the spine, resulting less pressure in the nerve roots. This procedure also stretches and massages the patient’s back muscles.
A chiropractor will sometimes suggest the patient have an electrical stimulation in their therapy session, with all the electrodes that will be placed on the skin and send a light electrical pulses to several body areas in order to relieve the inflammation and pain.
This is a special technique that is known as a form of manual therapy for reducing the possibility of breaking scar tissue with an instrument, it will lead to lesser pain with a combination of manual or instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).
Active Release Technique
This technique will explore and find problems in your tissues or structure that relate to motion, pressure or even tension, this therapy can treat conditions that are related to adhesions or the scar tissues. It will relieve the nerve compression and increase the blood supply, as well as reducing your pain.
Acupuncture also known as one alternative treatment for sciatica, it is approved by the FDA. Always be sure to choose the proper acupuncture places to perform this treatment.
Exercise when you have sciatica.
When you have sciatica, it is not easy to exercise, but it doesn’t mean you are forbidden from doing it. There are several exercises that can be performed for individuals with sciatica. It can be done at home and you can do them whenever you like.
You can try the simple knee-to-chest stretch and gain some benefit for your lower back as well as adding flexibility.
Start lying on your back on a proper mat, then you can bend the knees and keep the other foot straight while the upper body is relaxing and don’t forget to tuck your chin. You can repeat the steps three times while alternating legs each time.
Another stretching method that you can try is the sciatic mobilizing stretch that you can do when you lay back, you can place a pillow for your head and while bending the knees, keep them hip width apart then you can straighten the knee and hold it for 20-30 seconds. It can also be performed two or three times with changing your legs.
These simple exercises will help you reduce sciatica pain, remember that it can be applied as long as you’re comfortable with the exercise. Don’t force yourself to exercise if it’s painful.
Contact your doctor to discuss the exercise options before you decide to do them at home. If necessary, make an appointment first with a physical therapist or your doctor to ensure the steps are correct, thus you can gain benefit from your exercise and keep yourself healthy at the same time.
Always remember, that when you start feeling pain, stop the exercise and relax. If the pain continues or gets worse, seek immediate medical attention.