If you think you should only visit a chiropractor for back pain, think again. A chiropractor is a specialist who also deals with knee, shoulder, neck and sciatica pain.
When dealing with sciatica, you may need experienced hands to help you recover sooner. To help diagnose sciatica, we’ve listed out some causes and symptoms.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying medical condition with pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back. It can often lead to degeneration of an intervertebral disc.
Common causes of sciatica
- The most common cause is a nerve trapped in the lumbar spine affecting the sciatic nerve
- Slipped disc – When one of the discs in the spine bulges out to the side and presses the lower lumbar nerve roots forming the sciatic nerve.
- Lumbar herniated disc – When the soft inner material of the disc leaks out through the outer core of the disc which is fibrous, and irritates the contiguous nerve root.
- Piriformis syndrome – The piriformis muscle in the buttocks through or under which the sciatic nerve runs, sometimes get tight and irritate the sciatic nerve.
- Trigger point – Knots in the muscles of the lower back or buttocks, also cause the sensation of pain down the leg that’s similar to sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica
- It usually affects one leg or one side at a time. It’s rare to have sciatic pain in both.
- Symptoms of sciatica include burning or tingling sensation together with pain.
- The pain usually starts with the lower back, leading to the thigh and then it travels down the leg and foot.
- In serious cases, numbness or weakness of the leg muscles is also experienced by the patient.
Treatment for sciatica
- First and foremost you need to visit a chiropractor for back pain as he can only diagnose properly if it’s lower back pain or sciatica.
- Heat/ice therapy – Heat and ice packs can help in acute sciatic pain. They are easily available and can help relieve the leg pain, especially in the initial phase. They’re usually applied for 20 minutes, and should be repeated every two hours or as prescribed by the chiropractor.
- Medication/pain relievers – There are also over-the-counter (OTC) medications available. They are often quite effective too. But it’s best to take a prescribed medication.
- Ultrasound – Some chiropractors also suggest ultrasound. It produces gentle heat by sound waves that penetrate deep into the tissue. As a result blood circulation is increased which heals muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain.
- Epidural steroid injections – In cases of severe pain, an epidural steroid injection can be used. It’s directly injected in the painful area around the sciatic nerve to reduce the inflammation.
The process of finding relief from low back and leg pain associated with sciatica can often require some trial and error. Some patients may find certain treatments more effective than others.