What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a term used to describe the symptoms of leg pain—and possibly tingling, numbness or weakness—that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.
It’s a debilitating condition that can significantly impact your quality of life.
Causes of Sciatica
The root cause of sciatica is often a misalignment or subluxation of the spine, which places pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve. Other common causes include lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis.
Some of the most common causes of sciatica are:
- Misalignment or subluxation of the spine, which places pressure on the roots of the sciatic nerve
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Lumbar disc herniation or bulge
Common Symptoms of Sciatica
The symptoms of sciatica can vary greatly among individuals, depending largely on the location of the nerve irritation. However, some symptoms are commonly associated with this condition:
- Lower back pain: This is often one of the first signs of sciatica. The pain usually starts in the lower back and then extends down the back of one leg.
- Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting: Sitting for prolonged periods can exacerbate the discomfort caused by sciatica. For some sitting for awhile is okay but then the transition from sit to stand brings on the back and/or leg pain.
- Hip pain: Sciatica can also cause pain in the hip area, making it difficult for sufferers to move freely.
- Burning or tingling down the leg: Many people with sciatica experience a burning sensation or tingling running down their leg.
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot: In severe cases, sciatica can lead to weakness or numbness in the affected leg or foot.
- Pain that extends from your buttock down to your foot: This is a classic sign of sciatica and is usually felt on one side.
These symptoms can be quite debilitating, impacting a person’s ability to perform daily tasks and affecting their overall quality of life.
How Can Chiropractic Treatment Help Treat Sciatica?
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment approach that has been proven effective in managing sciatica. Chiropractors are skilled in detecting and correcting misalignments and subluxations in the spine through a series of adjustments.
Here are some of the common techniques chiropractors use to treat this condition:
Manual techniques form the foundation of chiropractic treatment. These techniques involve hands-on manipulation of the spine and other parts of the body to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Stretching and Strengthening Exercises
Chiropractors often recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help reduce sciatic pain. These exercises can enhance flexibility, improve range of motion, and strengthen the muscles that support the spine.
Much like their physiotherapy team mates, the Parkway Chiropractic team will often prescribe exercises based on your specific presentation. The easiest example of this is when sitting provokes the sciatic symptoms the most then the prescription often includes “anti-sitting” exercises as a part of your plan of care.
Spinal Manipulations (Adjustments)
Spinal manipulations or adjustments are a common technique used in chiropractic care. Chiropractors apply a controlled force to a spinal joint to improve spinal motion and improve the nerve function of the joint being treated.
Cold and Heat Therapy
Chiropractors often use cold and heat therapy as part of their treatment plan. Ice therapy involves applying a cold compress to the painful area to reduce inflammation. On the other hand, heat therapy relaxes tight muscles and improves circulation, promoting faster healing.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
Some chiropractors may use a TENS unit, a device that delivers small electrical currents to targeted body parts. This therapy helps to control pain and muscle spasms.
Remember, the exact treatment plan will depend on the individual’s specific needs and the underlying cause of their sciatica. Always consult with a professional chiropractor for a personalized treatment plan.
Research Supporting Chiropractic Care for Sciatica
Numerous studies underscore the effectiveness of chiropractic care for sciatica. For instance, a study published in the Spine Journal found that patients with acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion who received chiropractic care experienced significant improvement in their condition1.
Another study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed that 60% of sciatica patients who failed other medical management benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention2.
Natural Home Remedies for Sciatica
In addition to chiropractic care, several natural home remedies can help manage sciatica symptoms.
- Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles that support your back.
- Gentle yoga stretches can also alleviate sciatic nerve irritation.
- Heat and cold packs can be beneficial too. Cold packs can reduce inflammation, while heat can relieve muscle tension that may be compressing the sciatic nerve.
- Maintaining good posture when sitting and standing can take the strain off your lower back and reduce sciatic pain.
RELATED READING: 24 Exercises to Reduce Low Back Pain
Your Path to Relief Starts at Parkway Physiotherapy & Performance Centre
If you’re suffering from sciatica, don’t let it sideline you from enjoying life. At Parkway Physiotherapy & Performance Centre, our team of experienced chiropractors in Langford and Sooke are ready to provide personalized, specialized treatments to help you regain your health and vitality.
We believe in patient involvement and a team treatment model. We continually pursue professional development to provide the most up-to-date treatments. Don’t wait—experience the benefits of chiropractic care today. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.
- Santilli V, Beghi E, Finucci S. Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. Spine J. 2006 Mar-Apr;6(2):131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2005.08.001.
- McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010 Oct;33(8):576-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.08.013.