Sciatica is pain, tingling, or numbness that occurs when there is an irritation of the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve (which is formed by nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord in the lower back, the nerve goes down through the buttock, then its branches extend down the back of the leg to the ankle and foot).
What causes sciatica?
The irritation to the sciatic nerve is most commonly caused by a bulging or ruptured disc. However, sciatica can also be a symptom of other spinal conditions such as narrowing of the spinal canal, bone spurs (caused by arthritis), or pinched nerves. Occasionally, sciatica can also be cause by conditions that do not involve the spine, such as tumors or pregnancy.
How is sciatica treated?
Often, this condition will improve and go away with time. Initial treatments at the chiropractor may include:
- Ice/Cold therapy reduces inflammation and helps to control ciaticc pain.
- Ultrasound is gentle heat created by sound waves that penetrates deep into tissues. Ultrasound increases circulation and helps to reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain.
- TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a small box-like, battery-powered, portable muscle stimulating machine. Variable intensities of electrical current control acute pain and reduce muscle spasms. Larger versions of the home-use TENS units are used by chiropractors, physical therapists and other rehab professionals.
- Adjustments (Spinal Manipulation) At the core of chiropractic care are spinal adjustments. Manipulation frees restricted movement of the spine and helps to restore misaligned vertebral bodies to their proper position in the spinal column. Spinal adjustment helps to reduce nerve irritability responsible for causing inflammation, muscle spasm, pain, and other symptoms related to sciatica. Adjustments should not be painful. Spinal manipulation is proven to be safe and effective.
Additional treatments depend on what is causing the nerve irritation. Sciatica can be caused by other disorders beyond the scope of chiropractic practice. If Dr. Hirst determines the patient’s disorder requires treatment by another type of doctor, then the patient is referred to another specialty.