While all of the nerves of the body run along the spinal column, the largest of them is the sciatic nerve. The left and right sciatic nerves run from the lower part of the lumbar region, down the legs, and all the way to the feet. When the sciatic nerve root is pinched, compressed, or experiences inflammation in the lumbar area, pain is often felt down the length of the nerve into the leg. Sciatica can range from mild discomfort to debilitating disability.
What is Sciatica
Sciatica is the common term for the medical condition known as lumbar radiculopathy, which is pressure on a lumbar nerve root. Sciatica is actually a symptom, not a diagnosis or disease. Any pain felt along the length of the sciatic nerve is called sciatica. Many people mistakenly believe there is only one sciatic nerve because sciatic nerve pain is usually only felt on one side at a time, but some patients do experience sciatica on both sides.
Sciatica can include back pain, leg pain, and a combination of leg and back pain and is usually felt as more severe in the legs. In addition to pain, a patient may also experience muscle weakness, numbness, and “pins and needles.” Patients describe the pain as shooting, sharp, burning, or stabbing. The pain may be constant or periodic.
What Causes Sciatica
Sciatica may be caused by herniated discs, degenerated discs, vertebrae dislocation, back injuries, spinal stenosis, spinal bone spurs, irritation of the nerve root and other more rare causes such as infections, cysts, and tumors. Treatment for sciatica depends on the root cause. We work closely with your doctor so that we match the appropriate treatment with the cause of your sciatica, referring you to other specialists when needed. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk.
For some immediate relief of sciatica, there are some therapies you can do at home. Ice can help reduce inflammation. Even though you may feel the pain in your leg, you want to use ice on your back at the nerve root. A change in your diet can also help reduce inflammation by avoiding foods that increase it and adding foods that decrease it. A Mediterranean diet that is low fat, includes fish, and in high in fruits and vegetables can help with inflammation. For muscle spasms, heat from a warm bath or heating pad can help relax muscles. For trouble sleeping, sleep on a firm surface with knees bent and elevated by placing pillows underneath them.
Exercises that Help Sciatica
Stretching exercises can often bring immediate relief of sciatica pain. Try each exercise and see which ones bring relief. Exercises should not increase leg pain so stop the exercise immediately if you feel an increase in leg pain. Hold exercises for 20 seconds up to three minutes, and repeat exercises that involve repetitions up to 10 times.
- Lie prone with pelvis elevated by pillows – start with several pillows and then remove them one at a time as you feel relief – hold
- Lie prone with pelvis elevated by pillows and hang torso off of the edge of your bed – hold
- Lie prone with pelvis elevated by pillows and hang legs off of the edge of your bed – hold
- Banana bends – lie on stomach and shift hips away from the side with pain – hold
- GI Joe – lie on stomach and slide one knee up on the side with pain – hold
- The Sphinx – lie on stomach and lift torso up with arms bent at the elbows – repeat
- The Cobra – lie on stomach and lift torso up with hands on the floor – repeat
- Lie on back with pillows elevating hips – hold
- Lie on back, bend knees, and twist knees to one side keeping shoulders flat – hold
- On all fours, arch back like a cat and slowly bring down until concave – repeat
- Standing, place hands on buttocks, press hips forward and lean back – hold
- Standing, elevate body with arms pushing on parallel supports such as chairs – hold
- Flossing – sit with legs unsupported and extend one leg while leaning the head back – repeat
Treatment for Sciatica
Nerve compression can cause permanent damage in some cases, so medical treatment is highly recommended for sciatica that doesn’t respond immediately to home treatments. Even when patients have herniated discs, one patient may respond better to one treatment than another, so we use a variety of therapies and approaches to find the right combination that works for you. Those treatments may include:
- Spinal adjustments
- Spinal decompression
- Hot and cold therapies
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic massage therapy
- Soft tissue therapy
- Physical modalities
- Stretching and exercise programs
- Dietary and nutrition counseling
- Zenith HyLo Elevation Tables
- Therapeutic Ultrasound and Electric Muscle Stimulation
- Heritage10 Intersegmental Traction Tables
Chiropractic Care at Starkwood Chiropractic
Here at Starkwood Chiropractic, our approach is the safe, gentle, and effective removal of pain through our experienced methods. We help patients who have sustained sports, auto, and work-related injuries as well as relieving sciatica, back pain, neck pain, and migraines. We use a holistic, whole-body approach that effectively provides relief of pain rather than simply masking it with addictive medications and pain relievers. We accept insurance from commonly-used health insurance companies such as Cigna, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and many others.
Contact Starkwood Chiropractic Today
Starkwood Chiropractic has been helping people find relief for sciatica in the Portland, Oregon, area since 1983. If you have sciatica or any other ailment we can provide treatment for, give us a call to ask any questions you may have and see if chiropractic care is the right treatment for you. If you are experiencing pain in your legs or back from sciatica, don’t hesitate. Contact us right away and see how Starkwood Chiropractic can help you find relief from pain. Call us today.
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