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Sciatica / Leg Pain
Comprehensive Sciatica Treatment Through Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy
Sciatica can be a severely painful condition. It is caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, through the hip, and down the leg.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, as anyone who has had sciatica pain can attest. The most common cause of sciatica is pinching or irritation of the nerve in the lower back or spine. Slipping of a disc, slight displacement of a spinal joint, bone spurs, or combinations of all of these problems are the typical causes of sciatic nerve irritation.
The Proof Behind the Science of Sciatic Nerve Pain and its Relief
Chiropractic Sciatica Treatment
Sciatica is one of the most common conditions for which back surgery is recommended. However, back surgery has an extremely low success rate and carries a fairly high risk of complications. More recent success in non-surgical treatments for sciatic nerve pain has caused several researchers to back chiropractic care and massage therapy as an alternative. Researchers at St. Thomas Hospital recently reported the results of their study on non-surgical treatments for back and sciatic nerve pain in the Journal of Rheumatology. When they compared spinal traction, spinal injections, and chiropractic treatment, they found that chiropractic care was the single most effective treatment in the 513 patients studied! What’s more, gentle chiropractic care is less risky when compared to injections, and has fewer side-effects than pharmacological treatments.
In a similar study, researchers at the California College of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, also found chiropractic care to significantly improve clinical signs of sciatic nerve compression. Clearly, chiropractic treatment has been shown to be one of the most effective conservative treatments available for those who suffer from sciatic nerve pain.
Massage Therapy for Sciatica
In addition to gentle chiropractic care, massage therapy helps aid the discomfort of sciatica pain by relieving the stress placed on the lower muscles of the back. Your medical massage therapist can manually work the muscles and other soft tissues in the lower back and hips, as well as the muscles in the buttocks and legs, to relieve tension, tightness, and muscle spasms that contribute to sciatic pain. Combing medical massage with your chiropractic care can not only reduce pain in the joints and soft tissues of the spine and lower back, but it can also improve circulation, flexibility, and movement.
Chiropractic care combined with massage therapy should be the first consideration for those with sciatica. Spinal adjustments offer the opportunity of preventing the need for spinal surgery in many patients.
What Is Sciatica, Exactly?
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. When this nerve becomes irritated by an injury, stress, overuse, or a health condition, it can trigger many different symptoms to develop that can prevent you from doing the things you love most.
Common Symptoms of Sciatica
While each and every person experiences sciatic pain differently, there are many common symptoms to be aware of, including:
- Radiating pain from lower back/spine to buttocks, into the hips, then down one or both legs
- Pain and limited movement on one side of the body
- Numbness and tingling down the leg
- Discomfort along the pathway of the sciatic nerve
- Loss of sensation following the nerve pathway
- Tenderness to the touch
- Reduced movement and limited range of motion
- Dull ache or sharp pain when sitting, walking, standing, or going up and down stairs
Who Is at Risk for Sciatica?
Sciatic nerve pain can affect people of all ages, from children to athletes to seniors. While this is true, there are also some people who are more at risk of experiencing sciatic nerve pain than others, especially when we’re talking about chronic sciatic nerve pain. Here are some of the most common risk factors for sciatica.
As we age, our tissues begin to wear down due to decades of wear-and-tear and degenerative diseases like osteoporosis or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column). As a result, the spine becomes more susceptible to tissue loss and injury, which can place stress and tension on the lower spine, thereby aggravating nearby nerves. Because the sciatic nerve is so large, and because of its location in the lower back where significant stress and tension may already exist from years of prolonged sitting or poor posture, this nerve can become easily irritated in people aged 65 years and older.
Trauma to the spine or lower back as the result of a car accident, occupational injury, a sports injury, or even a personal injury like a slip-and-fall, can damage or irritate the sciatic nerve. Some of the most common spine and lower back injuries that can cause or contribute to existing sciatic pain include:
- Lumbar Herniated or Ruptured Disc
- Spondylolisthesis (Slipped Disc)
- Tailbone Injuries
Sitting for long periods of time can cause pressure and pain to develop in the spine, lower back, and hips. As a result, muscles can become tight and joints can become inflamed, which may aggravate the sciatic nerve.
Lifting heavy objects, or lifting something improperly can also contribute to sciatica. Whether this type of a compression or sprain/strain trauma causes sciatica, or triggers a flare-up, it can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable.
Repetitive motions, such as bending over and standing up, or even sitting repeatedly sitting at your desk or in a vehicle, are all risk factors for sciatica. Maybe you don’t perform the same movements every day, but you do so over the course of several hours, such as when you’re doing yard work, gardening, or shoveling snow, these actions can lead to overuse. This can trigger muscle spasms and fatigue, which can then irritate the sciatic nerve.
Obesity/Rapid Weight Gain
Whether you have struggled with your weight your whole life, or you have recently gained weight rapidly, carrying excessive weight places a great deal of stress and tension on the spine and lower back. Sciatica is one of the most common issues those who are overweight experience, especially those carry more weight in the upper body and midsection.
Your mother had your best intentions in mind when she told you to sit up and stop slouching. Holding bad posture can place additional stress, tension, and pressure on the mid-to-lower back, which can trigger ache, inflammation, and muscle spasms to develop, which can then irritate the sciatic nerve. What’s more, those who sway their pelvis and hips either forward or to the side can also trigger sciatic nerve flare-up. Especially when the position is help for an extended period of time.
Motherhood is one of the most special gifts, but carrying a developing baby for months places a lot of strain on the spine and lower back. As a baby grows month after month in size and weight, it slowly pulls the spine and supporting tissues out of alignment. What’s more, the additional weight carried in the tummy places additional weight, stress, and pressure on the lumbar spine and hips, which can make that darn sciatic nerve quite upset.