Sciatica is something I see regularly. Sciatica can be managed with conservative treatment which will help the body correct the problem. In addition, conservative therapies and chiropractic will help manage the pain until the situation improves.
What is sciatica?
The sciatic nerve brings messages that originate in the brain down the spinal cord and into the legs. Pain from sciatica radiates from the lower back down the leg, often reaching the ankle and foot. Sometimes, a herniated disc in the lower back will cause sciatica. If the disc herniates, it can cause pinching or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica symptoms get worse when sitting or coughing. A physical exam can confirm involvement of the sciatic nerve. Signs include decreased reflexes and leg weakness. After this is complete, treatment can commence.
People often think that if the pain is worse, it's more probable that something really bad is happening. This isn't always the case ... especially with sciatica. Treatment focuses on keeping you active and managing the pain of sciatica. Although rest may feel good, doing it for too long is not good for you. As the pain decreases, it is important to begin a rehabilitation program.
Evidence suggests that laser therapy, chiropractic manipulation and rehabilitative therapies are important for sciatica patients. The good news is that symptoms usually diminish within weeks if you're on a proper rehab program. Other options include injections and surgery, but these come with much greater risks. So, if you suspect that you have sciatica, conservative management should be your first option.
Sciatica and Fear
Patients who come to the office may be scared. It's usually a pain they have never had before. They want pain relief right away. When a patient comes in to the office, I will identify the small percentage that need to be referred for surgery, but most will be able to recover within 4-6 weeks with conservative management.
Active chiropractic manipulations are helpful with pain relief for acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion.
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