Can Chiropractic Care Help with Sciatica?
If you or your loved one has been experiencing piercing pain that originates in the buttocks or lower back and extends down to one or both legs, you’re probably dealing with sciatica pain. And you’re not alone.
According to research, sciatica is common, affecting as many as 10 percent to 40 percent of the population. In the United States, this condition affects more than 3 million people every year. This condition is specific to the pain that develops as a result of the sciatic nerve— which is responsible for providing direct and indirect motor function to the lower extremity adductors, leg muscles, and the hamstrings— being structurally compressed, pinched, or compromised.
Some of the factors that may lead to this condition include:
● Herniated disk (this is the most common cause)
● Repetitive wear and tear of joints from age
● Spinal stenosis
● An acute injury like a fall or slip
● Piriformis syndrome
While you may not need to worry about mild sciatica— as most such cases resolve on their own— it’s a good idea to seek treatment when the pain is severe, debilitating, and recurring.
Fortunately, chiropractic care has increasingly become a popular natural treatment option for Sciatica and can help provide pain relief without the side effects of pain medications.
How Chiropractic Care Can Help with Sciatica
When you visit your chiropractor, the first thing they’ll do is to collect your medical history information and conduct a physical examination to determine the location and severity of the pain. Your chiropractor will also examine your legs and lower back to determine whether or not there’s inflammation or compression on the sciatic nerve. They may ask you about what relieves or aggravates the pain you’re experiencing as well.
Once you’re diagnosed with sciatica, the next step is to create a treatment plan which, in many cases, will include spinal adjustments and other manual therapies to help relieve pain. With that said, here are some of the treatment techniques your chiropractor may use to treat sciatica pain:
● Chiropractic adjustments
Your chiropractor may perform adjustments to take the pressure off the sciatic nerve and realign the spine, often providing quick pain relief. Spinal realignment also allows the body to start healing itself.
● Spinal decompression
The focus of spinal decompression is to take pressure off nerves and the spinal disks by gently stretching the spine. This technique creates negative pressure on the spine, thereby providing targeted decompression, which helps relieve sciatica pain.
● Chiropractic massage therapy
Your treatment of sciatica may begin with a spinal adjustment before your chiropractor or massage therapist induces deep relaxation of your leg and lower back muscles, which helps reduce inflammation. Think of chiropractic massage therapy as a pleasing way to heal and soothe the sciatic nerve and relieve your pain.
● At-home exercises and stretches
Depending on the cause of your pain, your chiropractor may recommend and suggest some exercises that you can do to reduce pressure on the nerve and lower inflammation. This may include stretching exercises such as the sitting pigeon pose, standing piriformis stretch, scissor hamstring stretch, and basic seated stretch. Yoga is also a safe and effective exercise for people experiencing sciatica pain.
● Ultrasound and Other Modalities
It’s not uncommon for chiropractors to recommend other types of therapy like ultrasound, heat/cold therapy, and TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) devices, once they determine you can benefit from them.