About 40% of the population experiences sciatica once in their lifetime. This symptom, which can be quite painful to bear, affects even young children. While leg exercises and pain killers help in the pain management, there now exists effective alternative treatments for sciatica and one of them is chiropractic treatment.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom, not a medical condition. It is a common problem yet most of those who are affected fail to properly recognize the symptom as it arises. Specifically, sciatica is a pain symptom that occurs when the sciatica nerve, the longest and widest nerve in the body, is irritated or compressed. Common causes include herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis, and spine tumor. Sometimes, the cause can be disorders that are not related to the spine or the skeletal system in general, such as diabetes, infection, and pregnancy.
Most people also associate sciatica with leg pain but the truth is, the pain can be felt all throughout the areas covered by the nerve. The pain runs from the lower back of the body down to the buttocks and to the back of your legs. Sometimes, people even feel numbing or tingling sensations. At other times, it is just plain weakness of the area.
What are the common treatments?
Since sciatica is not a medical condition, its treatment is focused only on controlling or alleviating the pain. Mild sciatica or acute sciatica normally lasts for one month or so. In this case, no medical treatment is administered as the pain naturally goes away with basic leg exercises. However, it is still advisable to seek a physician for proper diagnosis. Sciatica that lasts longer requires effective pain management therapy and pain medication. Some adverse reactions to drugs may develop over time, thus doctors are now finding new means of treating sciatica. Nowadays, an increasing number of patients seek a more natural approach to healing and therefore choose chiropractic treatment.
What is chiropractic treatment?
Chiropractic practice is an alternative medicine focused on treating musculoskeletal problems, including spine problems like sciatica. Chiropractors believe that re-aligning the body or correcting skeletal or muscular misalignments will help the body recover naturally. Usually, the technique used is hands-on manipulation.
How does chiropractic care alleviate sciatica pain?
It helps both in correctly diagnosing the problem area and in managing the pain. Remember that there are different causes of sciatica. It is, therefore, extremely important to accurately locate the problem area in order to avoid worsening the condition. There are instances when the problem is non-spinal, therefore, chiropractors must exercise other techniques. A series of examinations is conducted to include ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, and other electro diagnostic tests. Some would even undergo specimen tests if only to rule out other non-spinal possibilities.
In chiropractic care for sciatica pain relief, there is a wide array of techniques or therapies to employ and integrate into a program. Since every person’s case is unique, treatment programs differ. It can include any of the following:
Some chiropractors recommend this treatment to kickstart the program. Ice packs are applied on vantage points to induce numbness and ease pain. Moreover, ice helps reinvigorate the nerve functions, thus helping reduce inflammation.
This treatment stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This technique uses TENS units that are battery-powered boxes that send electrical impulses into the affected nerves and muscles. Since every person has a different pain or pressure threshold, the intensity of the electric current is also varied. Some physical therapists even use this technique to treat other musculoskeletal problems, not just in treating sciatica.
Chiropractors are widely known for spinal adjustments or spinal manipulation by means of a physical touch and introduction of specific movements. Unlike most people think, chiropractic adjustment does not involve any bone-cracking movements. The procedure is as gentle as possible.
Chiropractors believe that pain is due to the restricted movements caused my vertebral misalignment. Along with this came a host of other problems such as inflammation and muscle spasm. By exercising certain movements or other applying pressures on the right areas, limbs can fall back into their normal placement. That is, re-alignment can occur.
What are the limitations of chiropractic care?
Chiropractic adjustment, although effective and natural, is focused only on managing pain and other sciatica symptoms. It does not directly cure the underlying disorder, which requires treatment by other specialists. In this case, patients are better off finding chiropractic clinics that have affiliations with other specialists for a more holistic and effective treatment.