Every one of us has spent some time nursing an aching back or knows someone who has. So it’s no surprise that the Global Burden of Disease study of 2010 found that low back pain is the number one leading cause of disability worldwide. For some of those afflicted, it’s not long before the onset of a second kind of pain, one so intense that it can be even more debilitating.
Sciatica is recognized as low-back-pain’s ugly step-sister. But if your current provider has given you a sciatica diagnosis, you may want to seek sciatic nerve pain relief elsewhere.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Explained
The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body, beginning as a bundle of fibers along the sides of the lower spine before weaving down through the pelvis, the muscles in the buttocks, and through each leg into the feet. It serves the vital role of connecting the leg and foot muscles with the spinal cord, and any type of pain or neurological symptom felt along that route is referred to as sciatica. Sensations can include:
- Severe, intermittent pain that is sharp, stabbing, or shocking through the buttocks and leg
- Mild, persistent, dull ache through the buttocks and leg
- Pain that increases with sneezing, coughing, bending, twisting, lifting, sitting, standing, walking, lying down
- Numbness, tingling, burning, or a prickly feeling
- Muscle weakness
The Problem Diagnosis
Contrary to what many people believe, sciatica is not a diagnosis, but a set of symptoms indicating injury. Sciatica symptoms occur when the nerve is compressed by another structure. According to Dr. Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, of the Atlantic Spine Center in New York, NY, 90% of the time it’s a herniated disk in the spine. Effectively alleviating the symptoms requires healing the initiating injury. But a provider that focuses treatments on an incorrect diagnosis (like treating the “sciatica” rather than the lower back injury that’s causing it), can actually perpetuate the problem and create the potential for permanent nerve damage, including loss of function.
How to Heal
Mild cases of sciatica are typically resolved with time. But severe, chronic, or recurring sciatic pain can indicate trauma that requires intervention. Depending on your diagnosis, consider the following for sciatic nerve pain relief:
- Injections: Low-dose steroid injections can quickly dissipate inflammation, which can persist long after an acute injury and lead to pain.
- Chiropractic Care: A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that 60% of patients with sciatica that failed other medical management saw as much benefit from spinal manipulation as if they underwent microdiskectomy surgery. Chiropractic helps improve alignment which can restore normal mobility to an affected area and greatly decrease pain.
- Traction Therapy: Many sciatica symptoms are caused by compression of the nerve by narrowed disc space near its origin. Spinal traction not only creates negative pressure on the discs to alleviate that pressure, it also creates a healing environment for damaged areas in the spine.
Seeking the Source of Your Sciatica Symptoms?
At Health Star Clinic, we invest in the latest medical technologies to determine the cause of your pain. Then, we use a multi-faceted treatment approach to provide you with the sciatic nerve pain relief you need. By applying the expertise of medical doctors, chiropractors, nurses and physical therapists, we can also help you avoid surgery and prescription medications. Contact us today to learn more about the options that are right for you!