That strange pain that runs from your lower back and down your leg officially has a name. More often than not, sciatic pain is also associated with inflammation and numbness but it may also be associated with leg weakness and changes in bowel and bladder patterns in severe cases.
Sciatica typically only affects one side of the body and generally arises when the sciatic nerve is compressed from a bone spur, spinal stenosis, or herniated disk or injury to the piriformis muscle which surrounds the sciatic nerve.
Sciatic pain varies from person to person; some people only report a mild ache while others report a severe burning sensation.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
- Age: As we grow we have an increased risk of developing herniated disks and bone spurs which can compress the sciatic nerve and trigger sciatic pain.
- Obesity: And increase in body weight can put extra pressure on the spine and trigger sciatica.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Sitting for prolonged periods of time has been associated with sciatica.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have an increased risk of nerve damage as unregulated blood sugar can lead to severe medical problems and nerve and tissue damage.
Can You Prevent Sciatica?
In short, no, but there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing sciatica:
- Exercise: Regular back and core strengthening can greatly improve posture and greatly reduce the risk for developing sciatic pain.
- Proper posture: Invest in office and home appliances that help support your back.
- Proper Body Mechanics: Lifting correctly and taking breaks when in a stationary position for a prolonged period of time is essential in preventing chronic back problems.
So I have Sciatica…
Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step. You now have a variety of paths that you can choose from to treat your condition:
- If you go to a doctor
- They will likely request Diagnostic imaging of the affected area.
- They may prescribe some combination of anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication, muscle relaxants, and in some cases seizure medication
- They may recommend a corticosteroid steroid injection around the root of the nerve to suppress inflammation and reduce nerve irritation. Steroid injections are effective but the effect wears off in a few months and steroid injections have serious side effect so they are administered infrequently.
- In severe cases surgery may be required to remove the bone spur or portion of the herniated disk affecting the area.
- If you go to a chiropractor:
- They will request diagnostic testing to identify any contraindications chiropractic therapies.
- They will practice non-invasive and drug-free therapy.
- They may utilize cold therapy to reduce inflammation and help control pain.
- They may use ultrasound to increase circulation and help reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain. Ultrasound generates sound waves that give off gentle heat that penetrates into deep tissue.
- They may utilize a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to target the affected muscle and reduce muscle spasms and pain with an electrical current.
- They may choose to do Spinal manipulation to free restricted spinal movement and restore misaligned vertebral bodies. In turn, spinal adjustment helps diminishing the overall irritability around the sciatic nerve and reduces inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain.
- Visit our page to learn more!
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Santa Clara Custom Chiropractic
3700 Thomas Rd. Suite 207
Santa Clara, CA 95054