Sciatica

Doctors of Chiropractic (or Chiropractic Physicians) manage sciatica very regularly. Sciatica is defined by pain that originates in the low back or buttock that travels into one or both legs. Sciatic nerve pain varies in intensity and frequency; minimal, moderate, severe and occasional, intermittent, frequent or constant.

What does sciatica feel like? Dull, achy, sharp, pins and needles or electric shocks are all words to describe the types of pain experienced with sciatica. Other sciatica symptoms include burning, numbness, and tingling sensations. Sciatica is also labeled to be radiating or referred pain, neuropathy, or neuralgia. A misconception is that sciatica is a disorder, however, sciatica is really a symptom of a disorder. Thus, it is important to consult with a sciatica pain specialist to determine the root cause of the issue.

Sciatica Is Caused by Nerve Compression

What causes sciatica? Sciatica is most likely caused by sciatic nerve compression. Disorders known to cause sciatic nerve pain include lumbar spine restrictions or fixations, herniated or bulging discs (slipped discs), pregnancy, tumors, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes, constipation, or even sitting on one’s back pocket wallet!

One common cause of sciatica is piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is a condition in which the piriformis muscle, located in the buttock region, spasms and causes buttock pain. The piriformis muscle is located in the pelvic region and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs within the piriformis muscle. This muscle is susceptible to injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis, or leg length inequality. Such situations can cause cramps and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve and causing inflammation and pain.

Sciatic nerve compression may result in the loss of feeling (sensory loss), paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles (monoplegia), and insomnia.

Proper Diagnosis of Sciatica Is Essential

Due to the wide variety of disorders causing sciatica, the chiropractor’s first step is to determine what is the root cause of the patient’s nerve pain. Concluding a diagnosis involves a critical review of the patient’s medical history, as well as, physical and neurological examination.

Diagnostic testing may include an X-ray, MRI, CT scan and/or electrodiagnostic tests (nerve conduction velocity, electromyography). These examinations and tests help to detect possible contraindications to spinal adjustments and other chiropractic therapies.

Chiropractic Sciatica Treatment

Is sciatica curable? The purpose of chiropractic is to help the body’s innate intelligence to heal itself. It is based on the scientific principle that restricted spinal movement leads to pain and reduced function and performance. Chiropractic care is important to consider for sciatica treatment as it is non-invasive and drug-free. Sciatica surgery should be the last thing on your mind!

The type of chiropractic sciatica treatment provided depends on the cause of the patient’s sciatica. A sciatica treatment plan may include several different treatments such as ice/cold therapies, ultrasound, Marc Pro, Theragun, and spinal adjustments (sometimes called spinal manipulation).  Below are more details on these chiropractic treatment modalities.

  • Theragun Although a chiropractor completes a lot of work by hand, a variety of specialized instruments are needed to give certain treatment. The Theragun is used to increase blood flow, decrease lactic acid, and disrupt the cycle of pain.
  • Spinal Adjustments At the core of chiropractic care are spinal adjustments. Manipulation frees restricted movement of the spine and helps to restore misaligned vertebral bodies to their proper position in the spinal column. Spinal adjustment helps to reduce nerve irritability responsible for causing inflammation, muscle spasm, pain, and other symptoms related to sciatica. Adjustments should not be painful. Spinal manipulation is proven to be safe and effective.
  • Ultrasound Therapy is gentle heat created by sound waves that penetrate muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Ultrasound helps increase circulation and helps to reduce muscle spasms, cramps, swelling, stiffness, and pain associated with sciatic pain.
  • Marco Pro is a medical-grade, muscle stimulating machine. Variable intensities of electrical current control acute pain and reduce muscle spasms. High and low frequencies are used depending on conditions. These medical devices are used by chiropractors, physical therapists, and other rehab professionals.
  • Ice/Cold Therapy reduces inflammation and helps to control sciatic pain.

During their training, chiropractors learn many different adjustment techniques enabling them to treat several types of musculoskeletal disorders. Techniques vary from a swift high-velocity thrust to those that combine minimal force and gentle pressure. Mastery of each technique is an art that requires great skill and precision. Spinal adjustment is the treatment that differentiates chiropractic care from other medical disciplines.