By Dr. Jennifer Moses D.C. –
Let’s take a closer look at the varying forms of sciatica, its causes, and how CHIROPRACTIC adjustments can help both with pain relief and correcting the root cause of the symptoms.
About 60-80 % of the adult U.S. population has lower back pain. It is the second most common reason people go to the doctor. Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. Each year 13 million people go to the doctor for chronic lower back pain.
The condition leaves 2.4 million Americans chronically disabled and another 2.4 million temporarily disabled.
Sciatica is a relatively common type of lower back pain. Sciatica is characterized by a set of symptoms including lower back pain, buttock pain, pain and numbness or weakness in various parts of the leg and foot. Typically the cause of these symptoms is compression of the sciatic nerve on the left, right or both sides. The compression or pinching of the nerve is caused by two adjacent bones not being in alignment with each other. Chiropractors can correct the misaligned bones.
Spinal Disc Herniation is caused when the bones are misaligned and the central part of the disc extrudes. If this extrusion puts pressure on one of the nerves making up the sciatic nerve it can cause sciatica. Chiropractors can realign the bones which often times allows the extrusion and the inflammation to cease and heal.
Pregnancy can also cause sciatica due to ligament laxity and as a result of the fetal weight causing a change of posture. Both of these put additional pressure on the nerves that make up the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic care is important during pregnancy because as the pregnancy progresses the ligaments become more relaxed and the bones of the lumbar spine and the pelvis can misalign.
Spinal Stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord, or sciatic nerve roots. This narrowing can be caused by bone spurs, spondylolisthesis, inflammation, or a herniated disc. This decreases available space for the spinal cord, thus pinching and irritating nerves from the spinal cord that travel to the sciatic nerve.
When you are feeling the intense pain of sciatica, understandably all you want is for the pain to go away. At such moments there is a temptation to seek drugs for relief. Prescription medication or some over the counter pain meds or anti inflammatory formulas may provide some temporary relief.
Chiropractors advocate treatment that gets to the cause of the pain. Your Chiropractor will take a history, perform a structural examination that may include x-rays and determine where the pain originates. If the root cause is a structural one, such as a misaligned vertebra or pelvis, a disc or a muscle spasm the treatment should also be structural in nature so as to fully resolve the problem at its root.
According to a comprehensive review conducted by the agency for healthcare research and quality, spinal manipulations performed by a Chiropractor and NSAIDS are the two most effective treatments for acute lower back pain. Of these only spinal manipulations was judged to both relieve pain and restore function.
For most people sciatica responds very well to Chiropractic care. Keep in mind that sciatica is a symptom and not a stand alone medical condition.
Chiropractic offers a non invasive (non Surgical) drug free treatment option. The goal of Chiropractic care is to restore spinal movement, thereby improving function while decreasing pain and inflammation.