Sciatica nerve pain is often excruciating and can be caused by multiple factors. Because it’s a complicated issue, there’s not one sure-fire way to treat it.
People who have it often misdiagnose themselves, thinking that the pain is something that they can sit through until it goes away. This prompts the question, can a chiropractor help with sciatic nerve pain?
The answer is yes, but you should have a decent understanding of the issue before you take steps to help it. We’ll cover the illness itself, the treatments available, and what you can do to start relieving the pain.
Can a Chiropractor Help With Sciatic Nerve Pain?
The sciatic nerve runs from the bottom of your spinal chord through the back of the thigh. It then divides above the knee joint, splitting before it runs down to the heel. This nerve exists in both legs, which is why a person’s pain is typically located in one of two legs.
Sciatica is the word that describes multiple forms of sciatic pain. The medical term that is used for sciatica is lumbar radiculopathy.
The pain can come a number of different forms. Often, the pain is in the leg or buttocks and gets worse when the person is sitting down. Sometimes people feel a burning sensation that runs down the entire leg.
The symptoms extend into feelings of weakness, lack of sensation, and difficulty moving. The pain can be near-constant, and give a person difficulty moving around and completing daily tasks.
What are the Causes?
Most sciatica is caused by disorders of the lower back. More specifically, they are caused by issues that occur between the L4 and S1 levels of vertebrae in your spine. These are the vertebrae that move from the root of your spine to the point just above the line of your hip bones.
These vertebrae have the potential to put pressure on one of your lumbar nerve roots. The most common form of sciatica is caused by a herniated disc, which occurs when one of your vertebrae is pressing against a nerve root.
Herniated discs are also known as slipped, or prolapsed disks. Your vertebrae are cushioned by disks that rest in between them. Disks are in place to absorb the shock that occurs when you walk, twist, or lift.
Each disc is comprised of two different sections. A tough outer ring surrounds a soft portion. In times when the soft portion moves outward toward the edge of the disk, it’s considered a slipped disk.
Sciatica can also occur when a disk degenerates. When a disk degenerates, it sometimes releases an inflammatory protein that irritates the nerve closest to the vertebrae. When the vertebrae are located between L4 and S1, that nerve is most likely the sciatic nerve.
Those are the two most common causes of sciatica, while there are a number of other reasons that it could occur. When thinking about the illness, remember that sciatica is a result of a malfunction of the spine, and the treatment must address the underlying issue.
Here is a brief list of other possible causes: spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, pregnancy, and spondylolisthesis. All of these reasons involve extra pressure placed on the spinal chord and vertebrae.
It’s essential that you go to a chiropractor if you suspect that you have sciatica. A chiropractor is best able to determine why your sciatic nerve is in pain. They will also have non-invasive treatment options that don’t involve drugs or surgery.
You may have to undergo a number of tests in order to be properly diagnosed. This includes an x-ray, CT scan, diagnostic tests, and MRIs. All of those might not be necessary, but it’s essential that your practitioner clearly identifies the issue at hand.
Cold therapy is a common first step for sciatica patients. This can reduce inflammation and ease the pain moderately. You can also rotate between hot and cold to ease the intense pain.
Ultrasound is also used as one of the first lines of defense. An ultrasound is a gentle way to deeply soothe the tissues that are affected. The heat from the ultrasound gives additional benefits by reducing the likelihood of muscle spasms and cramping, generally easing the afflicted areas.
The most common treatment that chiropractors employ is chiropractic adjustment. It’s likely that you’re experiencing pain because of the alignment of your spine. In addition to the therapies listed above, chiropractors will likely give spinal adjustments on a regular basis.
Through adjustments, your spine will move back into a healthy location and, hopefully, be able to heal itself naturally.
More Information on Adjustments
Chiropractic adjustments involve a trained professional using their hands to correct the alignment of your spine. This is achieved by applying an amount of force to specific locations on the back.
Misalignment of the spine causes a number of issues. Back and neck pain, headaches, and other ailments are only a few of the many issues that can be caused by poor alignment.
It’s essential that you don’t try and have work done on your back by someone who’s not professionally trained. People who are licensed to perform chiropractic care understand how to manage a spine without causing serious damage.
Permanent damage can come from improper chiropractic care. Herniatic disks can be worsened, sometimes causing serious nerve damage. Additional nerves can be compressed, especially in the lower parts of your spinal column.
In particularly bad cases, people can even have strokes when their spinal columns are poorly manipulated. This is more likely when work is being done to the neck or upper vertebrae.
There are a few conditions that should prevent you from getting a spinal adjustment. If you have severe osteoporosis, spinal cancer, vulnerability to stroke, or instability in your spine, a spinal adjustment could worsen your symptoms.
Finding the Right Chiropractor
Chiropractic care is an excellent treatment for those who prefer not to go into surgery or take excessive medication. While there are many things that require specific care, surgery, and medication, there are a number of ailments that you’d be surprised can be healed with a chiropractor.
Spinal manipulation can greatly improve the severity of headaches. Many headaches begin in the neck, and chiropractors can address the neck to relieve tension. Physical stressors of the workplace can contribute to a number of ailments as well.
Whether you’re sitting or lifting, your spine constantly has an effect on how your body functions. We repeat movements and actions over and over while we are at work, making our spinal chords liable to be altered. When our spines shift as a result of our jobs, the outcome usually isn’t great.
Ailments that arise from workplace repetition can also be greatly healed by a chiropractor. Another unlikely benefit of chiropractic care is an improved immune system.
Our spinal chords are intimately tied to our nervous systems, immune systems, and endocrine systems. A better-ordered spine improves the rate at which connections in the body are made, thereby improving our bodies’ ability to function and heal itself.
The benefits of using a chiropractor extend far beyond improved sciatic pain, but how can you go about finding a good one?
1. Ask Around
Your first move should be to approach those who have worked with chiropractors in the past. Get a feel for their experiences, what their ailment was, and how they liked their treatment.
Odds are, if your friend enjoyed working with a specific chiropractor, you will too. You can also ask your health care providers and family for good recommendations. Your health care provider will be able to tell you what credentials a chiropractor should have to treat your specific sciatica.
2. Think About Your Decision
While someone you know may have had a great experience with a practitioner, you should take a look into their credentials and work history. You could be working with this person for years if you’re lucky, and they’ll have a great effect on your health.
You’re also placing a lot of trust in the person you will be working with. As we mentioned before, there’s a lot that can go wrong when it comes to chiropractic care. In severe cases, there’s an opportunity for a person to become paralyzed as a result of poor care.
Your spine is central to your bodies physical, hormonal, and emotional functioning. Make sure that the chiropractor you choose is experienced and well-qualified to meet your needs.
A beautiful thing about the world today is the fact that we can access so much information about different people and things. Utilize this to see what people are saying about the chiropractor you’re thinking of working with.
3. Do You Prefer a Male or Female?
It’s essential that you feel comfortable with the care you’re getting. While practitioners work mostly on your back, care may require you to take your shirt off, and practitioners will have their hands on you.
While professionalism is an integral part of chiropractic care, personal preferences must be considered for patients to feel comfortable. A lot of people feel more comfortable sharing personal information and experiences with people of the same gender.
The opposite is true in some cases. In either case, requesting a practitioner of a specific gender is a totally understandable request.
4. Do You Want a Private Practice?
A lot of chiropractors work out of a private practice while many work in hospitals. There are benefits to both. If you’re battling a number of ailments that all tie into your sciatica, consider receiving care at a hospital.
In this way, you’ll be able to receive comprehensive care that all of your doctors are aware of. Another thing to consider is the quality of your insurance. It’s difficult to say whether private or hospital care will be objectively more expensive.
It will all depend on the quality of the hospital or practitioners office. If your insurance covers your care, go for the best-ranked facilities. If you don’t have insurance to cover your treatment, you will likely find that regular appointments are affordable.
5. Feel Comfortable Being Picky
Just like a mental health counselor, you need to be able to openly communicate with your chiropractor. You can glean a lot from your first appointment with a professional.
Make sure that the chiropractor your work with shows an interest in you and how you want to proceed with care. A professional should make sure you understand what your care entails, explaining every step of the way to you. If you find that you don’t click with one or two chiropractors, it’s totally understandable to schedule appointments with a new person for your next visit.
Find Treatment as Soon as Possible
If you’re dealing with even light pain, you should get a checkup. You don’t want your sciatic nerve to suffer any more injury, and the risk increases the longer you wait.
You don’t need to know exactly what’s causing your pain before you choose a practitioner to see. Even if you go to a chiropractor for a non-spinal issue, they’ll be able to address your pain and send you to the right kind of practitioner.
Mainly, though, you want your spine to be in good health. Even if you don’t have sciatica, you may benefit from seeing a chiropractor. Do you have lower or upper back pain?
Are you feeling any shooting pain in your ligaments that doesn’t seem to have an explanation? It wouldn’t hurt to get those things checked out. Additionally, a good practitioner will be able to identify relevant muscle groups that seem tense or tight.
They will then be able to tell you what might be causing that tension and give you ideas as to how you can improve the symptoms by changing things in your life.
Looking for a Practitioner?
So, can a chiropractor help with sciatic nerve pain? Definitely.
Your next step is to find someone who can help you get back to normal. If you’re looking for information on chiropractors or ways to find them, we have the answers you’re looking for.