Sciatica pain has been around since at least 1764, when an Italian anatomist, Domenico Cotugno, wrote about it in a book. You would think that after all this time, some of the myths surrounding sciatica would have become ancient history, but some myths just won’t die.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the pain of sciatica, perhaps the only thing you really want to know is how to stop that pain and be certain that it never returns. We can certainly understand that.
Before we talk about how to stop sciatica, first we need to talk about the facts, and that includes those pesky myths, so you don’t end up with the typical cycle of sciatica; temporary pain relief, return to normal activities, sciatica returning.
What Causes Sciatic Pain?
There is a wide range of causes for this common problem. Some of the most common reasons people experience sciatica include:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Pelvic tumors
- Degenerative disc disease
- Muscle spams from poor posture or overuse
- Poor mattress support
- Extended sitting
- Lack of exercise
Some people experience sciatica due to a combination of problems, such as being sedentary and overweight, then trying to accomplish too much exercise too soon, leading to a herniated disc.
I Just Want to Know How Do I Get My Sciatic Nerve to Stop Hurting!
We really do understand your pain, however, since sciatica stems from a variety of problems, you will need to have a diagnosis done. Someone who is experiencing sciatica due to a pregnancy will receive a far different treatment than someone with degenerative disc disease.
Keep reading, however. We are going to help you find how to cure sciatic nerve pain.
Is It Best to Rest with Sciatica?
No, not really. While you might want to take a weekend off from your normal activities and spend that time in bed resting with an ice pack, spending much longer than resting will actually make things worse.
Take a 48-hour break if you must, but the sooner you start treating the root cause of your sciatica, the faster you will be out of pain.
Top 7 Myths about Curing Sciatica Pain
Chances are that you’ve heard a few of these. Let’s look at the facts regarding sciatica, not the myths.
Myth #1- All Sciatica Patients are the Same
No one would ever say that all pregnancies are the same, so why would all sciatica patients be the same?
It’s true that the basic mechanics involved, the compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve, are the same, but the reasons behind this compression of the sciatic nerve and the patient themselves are never the same!
For most people, the pain starts in the lower back, then down to the buttocks, and the back of one leg. Some patients, however, feel this all the way to their foot or even their toes. Some describe the pain as a burning sensation, others say it is a sharp, shooting pain, and still others say it’s a dull ache that gives them a pins and needles sensation.
The severity of the pain, as well as the duration also varies from person to person. Some people experience sciatica only intermittently, when doing certain tasks or when lying down, others experience the pain almost non-stop and have a very difficult time finding relief.
This is one reason why a complete exam and proper diagnosis is so important. What some people believe is sciatica is only a strain of their lower lumbar system, while others have more serious problems and sciatica is merely another symptom. Seeing a chiropractor for sciatica is a wise choice as they can both diagnose and treat the root cause in most cases.
Myth #2-Sciatic Nerve Pain is Limited to the Buttock Area
This myth is related to myth #1. Not every patient is the same and not everyone experiences the same symptoms.
It’s true that some patients only feel pain in the lower back and buttocks, but others feel it all the way down to their toes. And while sciatica is typically only experienced on one side of the body, some people are unfortunate in that they experience pain on both sides.
Any type of back pain or musculoskeletal pain should be looked at immediately by a qualified chiropractor to determine the source of the pain and create a treatment plan.
Myth #3-Sciatica Won’t Lead to Permanent Nerve Damage
While it’s true that permanent nerve damage is rare, it is not unheard of.
Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong and sciatic pain is no different. People who refuse to see their chiropractor or who simply choose to ignore their pain risk permanent damage to the sciatic nerve. This can result in bowel or bladder incontinence, a weakness and loss of sensation in the leg, as well as “saddle” numbness, where a person loses feeling between the legs, part of the buttocks, and the inside of the legs.
Always take the signal from your body seriously. You can search for “chiropractor for sciatica near me” and find a qualified professional in your area.
Myth #4-Chiropractors Can’t Help with Sciatica
Obviously, this is not true. Depending on the root cause, your chiropractor is the most qualified person to help stop sciatica pain. Of course, if your sciatica is due to tumors, for example, then your chiropractor will refer you to a qualified healthcare professional who will take over your care, but in most cases, a chiropractor is the best choice for dealing with sciatica pain.
How many treatments for sciatica with a chiropractor? This would depend on the root cause. Sciatic pain from a herniated or bulging disc will take more time to heal than someone who is having muscle spasms.
Chiropractic adjustments and other modalities, such as heat therapy, chiropractic massage, cold laser, rehabilitative therapy treatments and/or ultrasound will reduce swelling and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. Studies show that 60% of those who receive chiropractic care recover just as quickly as those who have had surgery.
Can sciatica go away? Yes, it can. Most cases go away with just a few weeks with the holistic, conservative treatment plans that chiropractic offers, but some cases can only be managed, not “cured”, such as for those who suffer from spinal stenosis.
Starting a treatment plan sooner rather than later is the best way to stop sciatica pain fast!
Myth #5-All Sciatic Patients Need Surgery Eventually
This is perhaps the oldest and most stubborn myth of all. Surgery does help some patients for whom other treatments have not worked and whose pain has intensified over time, but this is the exception and not the rule.
Don’t let someone convince you that you must have surgery until you have all the facts and have tried every other treatment possible.
Myth #6-Sciatica Only Affects the Elderly
While it is true that sciatica tends to affect those over the age of 40, this is generally because of unchecked health problems or continually worsening habits, such as a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. The truth is that sciatica can affect anyone at any age.
If you are under 40 but are experiencing low back pain, pain that radiates down one leg, or if you have weakness or numbness in one leg, don’t think that sciatica couldn’t happen to you. See your chiropractor for a complete checkup and diagnosis.
Myth #7-Only a Physical Therapist Can Stop Sciatica
Physical therapy has a great deal to offer those with sciatica, but one thing is certain, physical therapists cannot diagnose sciatica.
Almost everyone can benefit from stretching and strengthening exercises, sciatica patients included. However, the root cause must be treated first. All the stretching and strengthening exercises in the world won’t heal a herniated disc or stop degenerative disc disease.
Once the underlying cause has been determined and treated, usually through x-rays that your chiropractor can order, these types of exercises and stretching programs can go a long way towards returning you to a normal life and prevent a reoccurrence.
More than likely, your chiropractor will set up an exercise routine that suits your specific needs and conditioning levels that will get you back on your feet in no time.
Can a chiropractor help with nerve pain? Yes, whether it is sciatica or a pinched nerve, a chiropractor is a trained professional in all things related to the body’s musculoskeletal system. Even if you aren’t sure if what you are feeling is nerve pain or sciatica, your chiropractor will do a full exam and set up the appropriate treatment plan or refer you to the proper healthcare professional if your problem is outside of his expertise.
We hope that you found the information in this article helpful. If you did, please feel free to pass it on to others who might benefit from it via email or your favorite social media platform.
At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, we hate the thought of anyone living with pain. Please call our office for a same day appointment or you can make an appointment online here. We will be more than happy to check with your insurance company for coverage and copay amounts. If you don’t have insurance, please read this article before deciding you can’t afford quality medical care.
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.