THE TRUTH ABOUT SCIATICA
Sciatica is a common yet misunderstood condition that affects millions of people worldwide. If you’ve ever experienced the shooting pain, numbness, or tingling that radiates down your leg, you might be all too familiar with the discomfort it can bring. We aim to shed light on the truth about sciatica, you with accurate information to help you better understand this condition.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to the pain that arises when the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, is compressed or irritated. It can be caused by various underlying conditions, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or even a muscle spasm. Understanding that sciatica is a symptom and not a standalone ailment is crucial.
At In Flow Chiropractic, this is one of the most common conditions we see and something we are very well equipped to help with and get excellent results in a relatively short period of time.
What side is your sciatic nerve on?
The nerves in the lower part of your spine join to form the left and right sciatic nerve. Your sciatic nerve travels from the back of your pelvis, buttocks, and down the back of both legs. Ending just below your knee.
The sciatic nerve then branches into other nerves, which travel along the back of your lower leg into your foot.
When there is compression or irritation to the sciatic nerve, it often results in sciatica pain or other symptoms, which is called ‘sciatica’.
The sciatic nerve provides vital communication to move your leg and foot and allows you to feel sensations.
While sciatica can indeed bring intense pain, it doesn’t always have to be excruciating. The severity of symptoms can range from mild discomfort to debilitating agony. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness that radiates down the buttock, thigh, and leg. The specific symptoms and their severity depend on the underlying cause and individual factors.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica develops over time but can sometimes be caused by an acute injury. Sciatica can also be the result of Medical conditions and other factors. Herniated disc in the lower (lumbar) spine, Lumbar spinal stenosis, Lumbar degenerative disc disease, Spondylolisthesis, Muscle spasms, Inflammation of the lumbar and/or pelvic muscles, Pregnancy (pregnancy-related sciatica), Sitting for too long over time (especially on hard surfaces) which can directly compress the sciatic nerve and is called wallet sciatica or wallet neuritis, Previous injuries or surgeries to the area, such as a hip replacement, Long-term, repetitive strain or overuse recreational or occupational (like truck driving or strenuous jobs like a machine operator), Obesity and Sedentary lifestyle.
What does sciatica feel like?
Initially, pain is felt in just one leg. Other signs and symptoms are Lower back pain, Buttock pain, Burning pain (knife-like or like an electric shock), Shooting pain radiating from the low back to the buttock and down into the leg, Numbness and Tingling(“pins and needles”). Pain that gets worse with sitting, trying to stand up, bending or twisting, or lying down (rare), neurological symptoms, weakness in both legs.
What causes sciatica to flare up?
Sciatica can flare up for many reasons, including poor biomechanics of the spine, living a sedentary lifestyle, repetitive heavy lifting and twisting, and weight gain.
How long will sciatica take to heal?
That all depends on the initial cause. Sciatica can self-resolve, which may take up to 4 to 8 weeks. Still, there is every possibility it will return at a later date and with very little to trigger it if the cause is not addressed.
Therefore, we would always recommend seeking help. Knowing that the earlier these issues are addressed, the easier and quicker they are to heal is important.
What is the most successful treatment for sciatica?
The good news is that chiropractic care can help with sciatica relief. If you are seeking help to get to the root cause of your pain, we would recommend seeing In Flow chiropractic because our primary focus is on the health of your spine and nerves.
We will conduct a thorough consultation and focused testing looking at various lifestyle and physical contributors to your symptoms. Then, provide you with a treatment plan to get on top of your sciatica.
Does sciatica show up on an xray?
Depending on individual needs, imaging may be required to help diagnose the underlying issue. Still, it is not always necessary and is something that we would discuss at the time and refer out for if necessary.
How can a chiropractor help sciatica?
If you experience sciatica and visit In Flow Chiropractic, we use a combination of specific chiropractic adjustments and tailored support and advice to help. Healing does take time and teamwork, and everyone’s journey and treatment plan can differ based on individual circumstances, which is why we would set a specific plan for you.
What is the best way to relieve sciatica at home?
As well as seeking help through chiropractic care, you will be pleased to know there are things you can do at home to help.
Does walking help sciatica?
Keeping mobile as much as possible is key, even if it is slowly walking around your home. If you can do a bit more, taking a short walk outside can help, and the fresh air and daylight will do you wonders. Unfortunately, sitting or lying down for long periods of time may delay your healing.
Some people find applying warmth to the lower back can reduce some of the discomforts and create a soothing effect. A water bottle or wheat bag can be useful for this. Alternating between cool and warm may help to reduce the sciatica pain also.
For example, gently applying something cool on your lower back for 10 minutes (such as a bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel) and then moving to 10 minutes of warmth (water bottle or wheat bag).
What is the best position to sleep in if you have sciatica?
We know how difficult sleeping can become when you are in pain. Where possible, we recommend sleeping flat on your back and placing a pillow under your knees to help reduce some tension from your lower back. Alternatively, you could try sleeping on your side and place a firm pillow between your knees.
In this blog, we have sought to clarify the truth about sciatica, providing accurate information. Remember that sciatica is a symptom, not a disease, and its causes and symptoms can vary widely. If you suspect you have sciatica or are experiencing related symptoms, seek evaluation promptly. With the right diagnosis and treatment, many people find relief from sciatica and can return to their daily activities pain-free.
If you would like any further information on managing sciatica, please reach out. We are here to help.