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If you or someone you know is suffering from the unrelenting pain of sciatica, we hear you! Back pain can be very deceiving and confusing when it happens. While many people experience pain in a similar area (such as the lower back) the source of the pain can actually come from different areas or causes.
Sciatica pain begins, for some people, feeling like a pulled muscle in the back. You might find that you can’t seem to get comfortable, no matter what your position. You take over the counter pain meds, but they barely seem to touch the pain.
For others, they wake up at night with a shooting pain or pain that turns to a tingling sensation from their lower back, moving to the buttocks, down the back of one leg, and for some, even spreading as far as their ankle!
What the heck. That is usually the first thought that comes to mind. Later, people wonder what is wrong and they begin thinking back on their last few days. Did I pick up anything heavy? What did I do that was out of the ordinary? Is this something that will go away quickly or is this something serious?
If over the counter pain medication does not offer enough pain relief, many people turn to the internet and/or social media sites seeking answers.
It won’t take long for your search engine to be filled with suggestions and your cell phone to be filled with advice from friends and family. Suggestions might include things like:
There is zero evidence that any of the above will help with back pain or sciatica. But when you’ve tried every over the counter remedy, from gels that warm the area to those little green pills that rhyme with roam, you start to get serious about finding a solution.
You know what we are about to tell you, but it’s absolutely true. How to stop sciatic nerve pain?
You might remember that your grandmother or great uncle Joe complained about their sciatic pain and think “I’m too young for this!” Believe it or not, the largest group who suffer from sciatica are people in their 30’s and 40’s.
Your job might also have a great deal to do with your risk of developing sciatica. People who lift heavy objects regularly or for long periods of time, such as movers or delivery persons, have an increased risk, as well as people who sit for long periods of time.
Those who live sedentary lifestyles, getting little exercise, are also at a greater risk and pregnant women often experience some type of low back pain, but rarely due to a herniated disc. While some back pain from pregnancy can be related to weight gain, for most women, back pain comes from the hormonal changes they are going through.
When any type of back, muscle, or skeletal pain strikes, it can be difficult to decide where to find the right treatment. Since both physiotherapists and chiropractors treat musculoskeletal problems, how can you know which is right for you?
A physiotherapist can use massage, mobilization, and various types of exercises to improve mobility and strength.
A chiropractor can do the above, as well as offer manipulations, chiropractic massage, physical therapy, exercises, heat therapy, cold laser therapy and more.
If you have tried other techniques, you should consult a chiropractor. Since your chiropractor can offer everything a physiotherapist does and more, why not start off with “more” right from the beginning of your treatment? It only makes sense.
This is a difficult question since the answer will depend on numerous factors including:
Some patients report pain relief after 3 or 4 sessions, and most people after 9 sessions.
The answer to this one is yes and no.
While sciatica pain can go away on its own with no treatment, most people simply don’t have 4-6 weeks to wait nor can they deal with the intense pain that sciatica can bring. With comprehensive chiropractic care, exercises, and other modalities, yes, it can disappear for those who have an acute problem, such as bulging disc.
However, for people with chronic issues, such as degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis, this condition cannot be cured and should be thought of in terms of pain management. Your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan that will greatly reduce or temporarily eliminate sciatica pain. Due to an ongoing disease or health issue, the pain will return, but continued treatment will keep it under control.
Your chiropractor’s approach to the relief of sciatica pain will be multi-faceted.
After taking a complete medical history and physical exam, your chiropractor will most likely order tests, such as x-rays or an MRI. After determining the root cause, the doctor will develop a treatment plan that suits your needs.
Most treatment plans involve 3 steps, including:
It is important that patients complete all three phases of their chiropractic treatment plan. Too many people complete the first step and, once they no longer feel pain, they hit the road, thinking that they are good to go!
Unfortunately, since they failed to address the root cause, they often return in a matter of weeks with the same complaint. Even after completing all 3 steps, patients should make follow up appointments within a 3- or 6-month time frame to ensure that everything is still working fine. You can speak to your chiropractor about an appropriate length of time for your follow up appointment.
Probably not. The truth is that, in most cases, studies show that those who receive surgery for sciatica pain due to herniated discs might have less pain in the short run, but there is no improvement or less pain in the long term (6 months or more) than those who receive chiropractic care.
If you have sciatica pain and are considering surgery, you should also know that, in one study, only 26 percent of subjects who had surgery were well enough to return to work. Compare that to the 67 percent of subjects who return to work after receiving non-surgical treatments, such as chiropractic care.
Epidural steroid injections help some people. These reduce inflammation and are applied directly to the area surrounding the sciatic nerve. These painful injections don’t help everyone and for some patients, the relief is only temporary, lasting from a few weeks up to one year.
If your chiropractor believes these might help you, they can recommend an appropriate health care provider. You should also continue with the treatment plan set up by your chiropractor to address the underlying issue and prevent a reoccurrence.
While nearly everyone will suffer from back pain at one time or another in our lives, surgery is rarely the answer. The best means of both prevention and relief from the pain of sciatic is to see your chiropractor sooner rather than later.
While many people will tell you that you can avoid the pain of sciatica by moving and stretching, which is good advice, the sad fact is that sometimes, the pain simply won’t let you do that.
Whether your back pain is caused by a bulging disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, or if a herniated disc is causing you enough pain that it is interfering with your daily life, don’t wait to see if it gets better. Chances are, you’ve already done that.
Your local chiropractor here at Better Health Alaska offers same day appointments, so you don’t need to be in pain any longer than you already have been.
Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.