If you’ve been searching the internet for help with sciatica pain, you’ve probably come across more than a few articles that suggest trying over-the-counter pain relievers, yoga, or an ice pack.
These remedies can be helpful for mild symptoms, but they don’t resolve the source of your pain: Compression of the sciatic nerve.
If you go to your doctor, they may suggest corticosteroid injections, muscle relaxers, or a nerve block, but these treatments are also mostly aimed at treating the symptoms, rather than the cause, of your condition.
Are There Better Options for Sciatica Treatment in Hiram?
Yes. A chiropractic clinic like Optimum Health Rehab can help by diagnosing and treating the core problem or problems causing your sciatica pain.
First, it’s beneficial to understand sciatica and the most common reasons it occurs.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to inflammation, damage, or compression of the sciatic nerve, which begins at the base of the spinal cord and runs all the way down to your foot.
There is one sciatic nerve on each side of the body. Either can become inflamed, but most people only have symptoms on one side.
Nerve pain can be a bit different than other kinds of pain. Many people describe it as a burning or stabbing sensation, but these aren’t the only possible symptoms.
Because nerves control all the feelings and sensations you experience – not just pain – you may also have numbness, tingling, or both. Often these symptoms alternate with pain, but some people may only have one or two of these signs.
Where do you feel pain or numbness? This can also vary widely from one patient to the next.
Remember that the sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, so symptoms can be felt anywhere from your lower back to the sole of your foot. Some people mostly feel pain in the leg, while others have more back pain.
Leg symptoms usually occur on the back of the leg, as different nerves affect the front of the leg.
What Causes Compression or Inflammation of the Sciatic Nerve?
There are a number of issues that can cause or worsen sciatic pain. Here are some common causes of the condition:
A Slipped or Herniated Disk or Disk Disease
The spine is made up of vertebrae or small, flexible bones. In between these bones are rubbery disks that serve as buffers to protect the vertebrae. Each disk has a jelly-like center with a more substantial exterior.
When the soft inner disk protrudes through the exterior, this is called a herniated or slipped disk. Degenerative disk disease occurs when a disk starts to dry out and deteriorate, usually due to aging or repeated injuries.
In both cases, an affected disk in the lower back could press on the sciatic nerve, triggering your symptoms. Fortunately, an experienced chiropractor can use techniques to move the disk away from the nerve, relieving pressure.
Spinal stenosis refers to a situation where the inside of the spinal column narrows, compressing nerve roots such as the sciatic nerve. This can be caused by aging, osteoarthritis, bony spurs, and herniated disks and is more common in older adults.
Spinal stenosis can also occur in younger people, including those who were born with a relatively narrow spinal column. Again, a chiropractor may be able to treat the causes of sciatic nerve pain from spinal stenosis.
This degenerative form of arthritis results in a breakdown of cartilage and bone changes, some of which may affect the sciatic nerve. At Optimum Health Rehab, we can treat both osteoarthritis and any sciatic nerve symptoms it causes.
Some people develop sciatica after an injury – most commonly from a car accident or playing sports. When you hurt your back, one or more vertebrae could become misaligned, and one of these might press on the sciatic nerve.
Your chiropractor will adjust the spine to realign all the vertebrae, relieving pressure on the nerve.
Not everyone who suffers a back injury will immediately have symptoms, and sciatic nerve pain often doesn’t appear right away. If you do have back pain, it may be diagnosed in the ER as soft tissue pain if you don’t have any fractures.
Some people recover from their initial back pain, only to begin having sciatica symptoms a few days or weeks later. For this reason, it’s always helpful to mention to your doctor or chiropractor that you were in an accident and when it happened.
Vertebral misalignments can also occur even if you don’t remember having an accident or a specific injury.
The bones in your spine move so that you can do a wide variety of activities, but sometimes this flexibility allows vertebrae to move out of alignment with the rest of the spine, even during everyday activities.
Misalignments can happen because of repetitive motions or behaviors (for example, if you frequently lean in one direction when sitting at your desk), sleeping at an odd angle, or even lifting heavy objects.
Regardless of the cause, your chiropractor can adjust a misalignment to relieve your pain.
If the above issues continue untreated, you can develop permanent nerve damage. However, sometimes systemic problems also cause nerve disease or worsen it.
Diabetics, for example, are at higher risk of nerve damage due to reduced circulation. Autoimmune diseases, inflammatory conditions, and certain nutritional deficiencies might also affect nerve health.
For this reason, we will inquire about your general health, and we may do blood work or other tests to determine if you have any conditions that could make your sciatica worse.
If so, we will offer nutritional counseling and may be able to recommend supplements to reduce inflammation or other issues.
Sciatica is common in people who spend a lot of time sitting, as this position can sometimes move the vertebrae out of alignment. In other cases, the chair itself or the position you sit in can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
What Kind of Treatments Are Available for Sciatica?
It depends on the cause of your sciatic nerve pain. We will carefully review your medical records, order tests, and perform an examination in order to make a diagnosis.
Once we know the source of your pain, we’ll build a treatment plan that may include one or more of the following:
In many cases, we can ease the pressure on the sciatic nerve by adjusting the spine. These adjustments are very helpful for patients with disk disease or misaligned vertebrae.
Some people benefit from having regular adjustments if they have a tendency to develop recurrent misalignments.
Physical rehabilitation is often used to complement chiropractic adjustment. Your rehab specialist will establish a plan to help you strengthen the muscles and ligaments in your back, improve your flexibility, and increase blood flow to the sciatic nerve.
This may involve stretching and other gentle exercises like walking or swimming. Keep in mind that much of the work is done at home on days when you don’t see your rehab specialist.
They will provide you with instructions on which exercises to do and how often to do them, and you will get the best results if you follow these instructions exactly.
If you are unable to continue at home due to pain or stiffness, let your physical rehab specialist know right away so they can devise a solution. Sometimes pain relief injections offer the temporary reduction in symptoms you need to exercise and get better.
Your physical rehab specialist can also assist you with occupational hazards that may have contributed to your sciatica. They may advise you about finding a more ergonomic chair if you must sit all day, or they could recommend taking frequent breaks to stand up and stretch.
If you can make it work, a standing desk is also helpful for some people with sciatica.
If symptoms of sciatic nerve pain persist despite other treatments, we may consider platelet-rich plasma injections or PRP therapy. This treatment uses your body’s own plasma, which contains platelets and healing compounds, to heal seriously diseased nerves and tissues.
The whole process takes place in one office visit – we simply draw your blood, remove the platelet-rich plasma, and inject it into the affected nerve using ultrasound guidance.
When we’re done, we’ll ask you to go home and rest, avoiding any activities that put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Many people see results in a few weeks to a few months.
How Can You Learn More About Sciatica Treatment in Hiram?
Please contact Optimum Health Rehab for a consultation. Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with sciatica or don’t know the cause of your pain, we can diagnose and treat you.
Our team of medical experts, chiropractors, and therapists is ready to deliver a customized treatment plan for your sciatica pain, so please call us at (770)439-6997 today.