The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and travels through the hips and buttocks, then down each leg. Sciatica is pain that comes from injury or compression affecting this major nerve.
This area can become more sensitive with age, injury, or excessive strain. Sciatica is described as a dull ache, mild pain, or burning.
There may also be pain felt lower in the leg, as well as tingling, numbness, weakness, and other neuropathy-like symptoms.
These uncomfortable sensations can be inhibiting to your daily life, but with the right approach to treatment, you could move forward with minimized or even fully eliminated symptoms of sciatica.
At Optimum Health Rehabilitation Center, we have Buford sciatica pain specialists standing by to help you get started on your road to relief.
Our licensed chiropractors, physical therapists, and pain treatment experts can introduce you to restorative treatments that tackle the root of your pain for long-term pain relief. Take control of your health with the resources available from our local team of professionals.
What Kind of Doctor Treats Sciatica?
Sciatica is considered nerve pain, which means that it is different from treating traditional muscle or joint pain.
Imaging is generally less helpful for diagnosing sciatica, so a doctor will rely on other methods like assessing your response to certain movements such as walking, running, kicking, and other agility tests. Your response to these movements can be a tell-tale sign about your condition.
A chiropractor or physical therapist can treat sciatica non-surgically. In many instances, sciatica is the result of excessive compression on the lower back, and a licensed chiropractic specialist is equipped to manually manipulate or re-align your spine as necessary.
A physical therapist is trained to look for misalignments or other problem areas in the back/spine and apply a strategic method of reversal. These treatments are non-invasive and promote natural healing within your body.
A chiropractic specialist like someone from the team at Optimum Health can help you in and out of the office by providing hands-on treatment but also offering you the tools you need to continue the healing process at home, too.
What Treatments Does a Buford Sciatica Pain Specialist Offer?
Sciatica treatment often involves combining various approaches to treatment that offer different benefits. Most people start with at-home treatments that consist of hot and cold compresses, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, and light stretching.
If you follow these at-home remedies for more than a month with no change in the condition of your pain, it’s time to try other methods. Treatment may include medication, chiropractic care, injection therapy, and surgery as a last result.
While many people try sciatica relief medication and temporarily enjoy the results, pain medication only treats the symptoms of the pain without typically ever addressing the underlying cause.
This can leave a patient reliant on said medication indefinitely with no progress in treating the actual problem.
Optimum Health offers a multitude of treatment options for someone suffering from sciatica. Chiropractic care is a widely effective treatment, focusing attention on decompressing the nerves which are causing pain in the sciatic region.
Our neurologists can conduct nerve velocity tests and other forms of investigation in order to pinpoint the regions most affected and their current functioning.
Optimum’s sciatica pain specialists can also offer a wide range of other non-invasive therapeutic treatments like medical massages and regenerative medicine such as Platelet-rich Placenta (PRP) injections.
How Does the Sciatic Nerve Become Injured?
The sciatic nerve is made up of 5 nerve roots that come together to eventually form two separate nerve branches. You have both a left and right sciatic nerve that connects to other nerves as it travels down your legs.
Pain in these nerves is a common sensation, as 40% of people in the U.S. will report sciatica pain at one point in their lives.
It is surprisingly uncommon to injure the actual sciatic nerve, but any pain in the related area has been generalized and is typically associated with sciatica.
More commonly, the sufferer has developed nerve compression in the spine or the region where the nerve travels through the lower back and past the hips.
One of the most common sources of sciatic nerve issues is repetitive stress and muscular tension. Many individuals will develop tightness in the back due to muscle strain and imbalance, especially those who sit or stand for long periods during work.
Extended compression directly upon the nerve or posture-related conditions like pelvic tilt can cause the space where the nerve travels to become chronically inflamed.
This common trigger is why many sciatica specialists recommend a regimen of physical therapy, so that the hips and lower back can be both stretched and strengthened, correcting posture and giving the sciatic nerve more room to travel and transmit signals freely.
Risk Factors for Sciatica
Acute sciatica is often caused by a herniated or slipped disc that puts pressure on the root of a nerve. These discs act as cushions that pad the space between the vertebrae of the spine.
Other common reasons for ‘sciatica’ pain are spondylolisthesis, the slippage of a vertebra out of place, osteoarthritis, and trauma injury.
There are other conditions that cause pain in the sciatic nerve, such as piriformis syndrome, which causes tight sensations and spasms in the lumbar region.
Certain causes of sciatica can be genetic, but there are other risk factors that can also increase your chances of pain from your sciatic nerve, including:
- Injury/previous injury: Sports and auto accidents result in the most commonly treated injury-caused sciatica, but any injury to the lower back or spine can put you at a higher risk.
- Living a sedentary lifestyle: When a person sits for long periods of time, they put extended pressure on their lower back and sciatic nerve. Standing and walking around can temporarily relieve your back of the extra work. Sitting for long periods of time can cause poorly circulating blood flow which will affect the body’s nutrient levels, resulting in rising discomfort in the sciatic nerve.
- Obesity: Being overweight can increase a person’s risk of sciatica because of the excess weight they consistently carry. Extra weight can have a long-term impact on the musculoskeletal system, which makes up for roughly 80% of back pain.
- Physically demanding career field: Labor-intensive jobs that require repeated bending and lifting put immense pressure on your lower back, which can ultimately lead to a herniated disc or a repetitive stress injury, two of the leading causes of sciatica.
- Diabetes: Diabetes causes diabetic neuropathy, which results in nerve damage throughout the body but is usually most noticeable in the legs and feet. Because diabetic neuropathy affects the nervous system, people with this condition are at a higher risk of sciatica.
- Osteoarthritis: With age, our joints develop natural wear and tear that can lead to painful symptoms later in life. This is a degenerative arthritis condition that affects the bones of the spinal column by deteriorating the cartilage and discs that cushion the vertebrae.
- Smoking: In a study conducted on smoking and degenerative conditions, it was found that nicotine may be directly responsible for intervertebral disc degeneration by causing cell damage, affecting how the disc can function over time.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women face a unique risk of sciatica which isn’t caused by wear and tear or an injury. Certain hormones released into a woman’s system during pregnancy actually loosen her ligaments. As ligaments are what secure the discs and vertebrae and keep the spine stable, this can lead to something like a slipped disc. On top of slipped discs, the position of the baby can add extra pressure to the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is most common in people ages 30-50 but can affect everyone except the very young. While young adults are less likely to experience sciatica, a strenuous lifestyle can cause early-onset problems.
Although certain causes of sciatica are unpreventable, such as those caused by pregnancy, arthritis, or injury, there are some ways to maintain the wellness of your sciatic nerves and lumbar/sacral region.
If you are already experiencing mild discomfort in your lower back and believe you are facing sciatica, the following tips may help treat minor symptoms:
- Stop smoking: None of the chemicals found in cigarettes are good for you, but nicotine alone can speed up degenerative processes, weaken bones, and damage tissue around the spine. Simply by stopping smoking, you can likely decrease your chances of sciatica.
- Practice good posture: The best posture to protect your spine and the sciatic nerve is to sit straight up with your shoulders back and relaxed. A common strategy would be to imagine a stack of books on each shoulder that you are responsible for keeping upright.
- Exercise regularly and cautiously: Daily low-impact exercise is essential for the long-term preservation of the nervous system for later in life. Exercise improves weak muscles, increases mobility, and enriches the nervous system, but it could also have the opposite effect if you aren’t careful. Warm-up and cool-down stretches are an essential part of a workout routine that first prepares your body for any strain, then releases tension in your muscles after you’ve finished. Forgetting to warm up or cool down can leave your muscles tight, ultimately leading to a possible tear after habitual neglect.
- Keep track of your weight: Everyone’s weight fluctuates, but we all have a set point that our bodies naturally default to, regardless of our goals. This is one explanation for why some people gain back or drop weight once they pause their strict workout routine. Understanding your body’s instinctive goals and maintaining a weight that does not overstep your body’s limits can help you prevent excessive wear and tear damage with age.
Relief for Sciatica Begins at Optimum Health Rehabilitation Center
Sciatica is a painful condition that can make simple tasks feel unconquerable. Optimum Health in Buford offers comprehensive sciatica pain treatment, including chiropractic care, regenerative medicine, physical rehabilitation, personal injury treatments, and more.
A sciatica pain specialist can help you better understand the root of your pain and how to attack it effectively. Our staff is committed to providing aid to each patient that we see and is dedicated to their long-term wellness.