Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is actually a set of symptoms that occur when something is irritating the Sciatic Nerve. This nerve controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet. Sciatica is not a diagnosis for what is irritating the nerve root and causing the pain. Most often, the symptoms tend to develop as a result of general wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine, not as a result of injury.
The Symptoms of Sciatica
The most common symptom associated with sciatica is pain that originates in the lower back and travels down one leg. However, symptoms can vary widely depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected. Some people experience a mild tingling, a dull ache, or even a burning sensation, typically on one side of the body. Sciatic pain may get worse after sitting, standing, at night, or when coughing or laughing.
The doctors at Family Chiropractic will begin by taking a complete history and performing a physical and neurological examination, in which the doctor will pay special attention to your spine and legs. You may be asked to perform some basic activities that will test your sensation, muscle strength, and your reflexes. In some cases, the doctors may recommend diagnostic imaging, such as x-ray, MRI, or CT scan.
Chiropractic offers a non-invasive (non-surgical), drug-free treatment option. The goal of chiropractic care is to restore spinal movement, thereby improving function while decreasing pain and inflammation. Depending on the cause of the sciatica, a chiropractic treatment plan may cover several different treatment methods, including but not limited to spinal adjustments, ice/heat therapy, ultrasound, electronic muscle stimulation, Flexion/Distraction, and rehabilitative exercises.
Home Care for Sciatica
- Sleep with a pillow under or between your knees
- Use ice and heat as recommended
- Reduce bending and twisting
- Reduce lifting as tolerated
- Change positions frequently