According to Southern Cross Medical Library, sciatica is a relatively common back problem with up to 40 per cent of the New Zealand population experiencing it at some point in their lives. There are numerous causes for sciatica and therefore many ways to treat sciatica, but have you ever wondered when to see a chiropractor for sciatica?
Many people who struggle with sciatica tend to live with the problem, rather than seek out treatment. Or they might try one approach only to find it doesn’t work for them in isolation. Finding a solution for sciatica can be complex and unique to the individual experiencing it.
Read on to learn more about when and why you might like to seek out the expertise of a chiropractor for sciatica.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a musculoskeletal condition that impacts the sciatic nerve. It commonly causes pain in the lumbar (lower) spine that radiates through the buttock and down the back of the leg. Typically sciatica will only affect one side of the body.
The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve that runs through the body. It originates in the lumbar spine, spreads into the pelvis, through the buttocks, and down the back of each leg. Sciatica is a result of this nerve becoming inflamed, irritated, or compressed.
The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or herniated disc pressing into the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica-related pain often ranges from mild to severe. In some cases, the pain may come and go according to certain amounts of physical activity or strain the spine endures.
Some of the most common symptoms range from a deep, dull ache in the lower back, hip area, or down the back of the legs. The pain can also be sharp and shoot throughout the lower back, the pelvis, and the legs with certain types of movement.
One of the key factors that differentiates sciatic pain from other forms of back pain is that it can travel past the knee, into the foot. Specific actions or types of movement can also aggravate the pain, such as lifting, sitting, coughing, or sneezing.
Common sciatica causes
As mentioned, sciatic pain is a result of irritation of the nerve. But there is usually an underlying issue that is causing this irritation or inflammation. Some of the most common causes of nerve irritation include:
Overexertion during sport, exercise, or even a physical day-to-day job can strain, irritate and inflame the sciatic nerve.
When one of your spinal discs between your vertebrae moves out of place, this can put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
This condition causes bone spurs to form on the vertebrae, which can compress the sciatic nerve.
This condition causes your spinal discs to wear down over time, which increases the pressure on your sciatic nerve.
As your joints become all-the-more elastic due to hormonal changes in the body, this puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. The baby’s position can also compress the nerve and cause pain.
When should you see a chiropractor for sciatica?
Chiropractors in New Zealand are well trained, experienced, and well prepared to deal with conditions such as sciatica. This is because they complete a five-year university degree. This includes the study of chiropractic philosophy, biological sciences, neurology. As well as orthopedics, radiology, clinical sciences and plenty of practical clinical experience.
After this, chiropractors must complete an examination held by the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s Chiropractic Registration Board. They are also expected to continue their education throughout their career. This is usually done by completing a minimum number of post-graduate education hours.
If you’re struggling with sciatic nerve pain, you don’t have to live with it, this condition is treatable.
Chiropractic can be an effective option to help people who struggle with any form of musculoskeletal pain, whether it’s chronic or acute.
In one study, sixty per cent of patients with sciatica, who were left disappointed after other medical management options, benefited from chiropractic spinal manipulation to the same standard as having surgery. The other 40 per cent that did not benefit to the same degree from chiropractic, had an excellent surgical outcome.
You never should wait until your sciatic pain is severe. It’s important to see a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor, as soon as sciatica begins to interfere with your everyday movement.
If your symptoms continue to get worse and not better, it’s even more crucial that you seek out medical care. For example, if you feel weakness in your legs, loss of movement, or sensation in your toes or feet, make sure to see a general practitioner as soon as possible. You may then be referred to a chiropractor for further treatment for sciatica.
How is sciatica diagnosed?
When you visit a chiropractor for sciatica treatment, you will undergo a number of diagnostic tests. They will discuss your medical history, any history of injury, and examine your spine and mobility.
After this, an x-ray or CT scan of your spine may be needed to determine the severity of sciatic nerve damage or irritation, as well as the cause.
If your chiropractor finds that you have a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, you may have to undergo an MRI scan. This is to gather a little more detail on the extent of your condition. You may also undergo electromyography (EMG) to test your nerve responsiveness.
Other sciatica remedies and treatment options
The treatment options for sciatic pain vary and depend on the underlying condition and your pain levels.
Some of the more acute treatment options include regular chiropractic treatment and adjustments. As well as light exercise, stretching and mobility exercises, and hot or cold compression packs for pain relief.
Anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended, but it’s never prescribed as a long-term solution.
Some of the more chronic medical treatment options for severe cases of chronic sciatica include physical therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy to help manage pain.
In rare cases, sciatic conditions may require surgery such as a discectomy, which is a partial removal of a herniated disc. Or, lumbar laminectomy which widens the spinal cord to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Keep your spinal health in-check with inLine chiropractic
If you’re in search of an experienced chiropractor for sciatica in the Wellington CBD, inLine Chiropractic is your local go-to. Book your chiropractic appointment today.