What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a common back ailment that affects approximately 1 in 10 adults in the United States. It is most prevalent in people between the ages of 25 and 45. Sciatica is characterized by a shooting pain that originates in the lower back and travels down through the hip, buttock, and back of the leg. The pain can be so severe that it inhibits mobility and can prevent people from working, taking care of their homes, or just enjoying their life. Traditionally, doctors have treated the condition with medications and some invasive therapies, but chiropractic treatments have been found to be extremely effective in alleviating the pain and curing the condition.
Sciatica typically affects the lower back, specifically pain that travels along the sciatic nerve path. This path originates in the lower spine and extends down each side of the hip, buttock area, and down the leg to the foot. Usually, only one side is affected during a case of sciatica. Not every patient experiences back pain with their buttock and leg pain (sciatic pain), which can make it more difficult to diagnose.
Sciatica commonly occurs when there is a spinal condition, such as a herniated spinal disk, or when a condition like spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine) or spinal subluxations compress the nerve. The result is inflammation, numbness, pain, and stiffness in the leg that is affected.
While sciatica pain can be severe, the majority of the time the condition is resolved in a matter of weeks without surgical intervention. Some doctors may suggest surgery if the patient experiences extreme weakness in the leg or has problems with their bowel or bladder. Most of the time doctors will prescribe medication to treat the pain and relax the muscles that surround the sciatic path in an effort to provide the patient with some relief.
How Chiropractic Treatments Help Sciatica
Chiropractic has been shown to be very effective in treating sciatica by helping the body heal itself. It is non-invasive and does not use medications, making it an optimal choice for many patients. There are various treatments that a chiropractor may use or recommend. They may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies.
Adjustments. Spinal manipulation, or adjustments, is the core of chiropractic treatment. The purpose of the adjustment is to correct spinal subluxations and realign the spine, and free restricted spinal joints and restore movement. This helps bring the body back into its proper alignment so that the nervous system can function better and more effectively. It also helps to reduce the pain that is associated with nerve inflammation, particularly that associated with sciatica.
Ultrasound. A very mild heat that is created by sound waves at a frequency that is beyond human hearing providing deep tissue penetration. This therapy stimulates circulation and aids in reducing muscle spasms, stiffness, swelling, pain, and cramping and speeds the healing of damaged tissues.
EMS or TENS. Electric Muscle Stimulation or Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a therapy that employs a machine that utilizes electrodes placed on the body to conduct certain pulse frequencies of electricity to stimulate the muscles and nerve endings. These electrical frequencies help control pain and reduce the occurrence of muscle spasms.
As a holistic chiropractor, I incorporate exercise and nutritional support into my patient’s treatment plans to get the best result. My recommendations for care are based on the patient’s individual needs, the severity of the condition, and their lifestyle and habits. A variety of chiropractic techniques may also be used to treat sciatica. Since each patient is different, I consult with all of my patients to better understand what they do on a day-to-day basis and what may be causing the sciatic pain to occur. From there I will treat the problem from the patient’s perspective, seeking the best, most effective approach.
If you or a loved one is suffering from this condition, please give me a call. I am here to help!
Dr. Hoch (pronounced Hoke), is a 1988 Graduate of Peotone High School and a 1990 Graduate of Joliet Junior College. She received both her B.S. in Human Biology (1991) and her Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) (1993) from The National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, IL. She also received her graduate and post-graduate certifications in Acupuncture from NCC.