Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, is a collection of symptoms, characterized by pain anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can be acute or chronic and it may be mild, moderate, or severe. As the largest and longest nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve extends from the lower back, or lumbar spine, down the hips and buttocks into the legs, knees, and feet. In the following article, we will discuss how chiropractic care can help treat sciatica.
Causes and Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica is a group of various symptoms rather than a single health issue. Sciatica is described as a dull, sharp, “pins-and-needles” type of pain and discomfort, similar to an electric shock. Sciatic nerve pain is also known as referred or radiating pain. Other common symptoms may include tingling or burning sensations, weakness, and numbness. In severe cases, I t may also cause sensory loss or loss of feeling and monoplegia or paralysis of a single limb or group of muscles.
Sciatica is commonly caused by the compression or impingement of the sciatic nerve. A variety of injuries and underlying conditions, including subluxations in the lower back or misalignments of the lumbar spine, bulging or herniated intervertebral disks, spinal tumors, pregnancy and childbirth, as well as other health issues, such as constipation and diabetes, can commonly cause sciatic nerve pain. Another well-known cause of sciatica is known as piriformis syndrome.
Piriformis syndrome is a disorder in which the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is found along the lumbar spine in the lower back where it connects to the thighbone and helps with the rotation of the hip. In most people, the sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. Injuries and underlying conditions, including a slip-and-fall accident, leg length discrepancy or a difference in leg length, sports injuries, auto accident injuries, and arthritis can commonly cause piriformis syndrome. In these cases, the piriformis muscle can spasm and cramp, ultimately resulting in sciatic nerve pain.
Sciatica is a collection of symptoms, commonly characterized by pain, discomfort, tingling or burning sensations, and numbness, among other well-known symptoms. Sciatic nerve pain may be caused by subluxations or misalignments of the spine, bulging or herniated discs, and piriformis syndrome. Various other health issues may also cause sciatica. Chiropractic care is a safe and effective, alternative treatment option which uses spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to treat sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, among other health issues. – Dr. Rick Cazares Insight
Chiropractic Care for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Because a variety of injuries and underlying conditions can cause sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, a proper diagnosis is essential in order for the patient to receive a proper treatment. Healthcare professionals can determine the source of a patient’s sciatica symptoms by carefully reviewing their medical history as well as performing a thorough physical and neurological evaluation. Further diagnostic testing for sciatica symptoms may include x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, CT scan and electrodiagnostic tests like electromyography or EMG and nerve conduction velocity or NCV.
Chiropractic care is a well-known, alternative treatment option which focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a variety of injuries and underlying conditions associated with the musculoskeletal and nervous system, including sciatica. The purpose of chiropractic care is to safely and effectively help restore the original integrity of the spine by correcting any subluxations or misalignments of the spine as well as promote the human body’s natural ability to heal itself without the use of drugs, medicines and surgery or other surgical interventions.
After proper diagnosis of a patient’s sciatica symptoms, a doctor of chiropractic (DC), or chiropractor, will determine the proper treatment based on the cause of the sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain. Chiropractic care commonly utilizes spinal adjustments or manual manipulations to carefully correct any subluxations, or misalignments of the spine, which may be causing various symptoms, including sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica. Other treatments can include:
- Ice/Cold therapy which can help reduce pain and discomfort associated with inflammation. Chiropractors also use ice/cold therapy to help manage sciatica symptoms.
- Ultrasound which involves the use of sound waves that produce a soft or gentle heat which penetrates and enters deep into soft tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, or muscles, among others. Doctors of chiropractic use ultrasound to increase circulation and help reduce spasms, cramps, swelling, inflammation, weakness and stiffness caused by sciatic nerve pain.
- TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit which is a small, battery-powered and portable muscle stimulating machine. Chiropractors use various levels of electrical currents to manage sciatica. Chiropractors, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals also use larger versions of the home-use TENS units.
In college and throughout their training, chiropractic care students learn several different spinal adjustment and manual manipulation methods or techniques that ultimately allow them to treat a variety of injuries and/or underlying conditions, including sciatic nerve pain. Methods and techniques can often vary from a swift, high-velocity thrust to those that combine minimal force and gentle pressure. Spinal adjustments and manual manipulations are the type of treatments which differentiates chiropractic care from other conventional treatment approaches.
Sciatica can also be caused by other injuries and/or underlying conditions which may be beyond the scope of chiropractic care. If the doctor of chiropractic determines that the patient’s sciatic nerve pain requires treatment by another healthcare professional, the patient will be referred to another specialty. In some cases, the referring chiropractor may continue to treat the patient and co-manage the patient’s care with the other healthcare professional.
The scope of our articles, topics, and discussions are limited to chiropractic care and a variety of injuries and underlying conditions associated with the musculoskeletal and nervous system, including sciatica or sciatic nerve pain. We have made a reasonable attempt to identify relevant information and research studies to support our posts. To further discuss the subject matter in the article above, please feel free to contact us and/or call our office at (915) 217-0193 .
Curated by Dr. Rick Cazares
- Ron Grassi DC MS ACEFI, “Chiropractic Treatment of Sciatica.” SpineUniverse, SpineUniverse, 23 May 2019, https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/sciatica/chiropractic-treatment-sciatica