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Understanding Sciatica Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

By October 2, 2023No Comments

Sciatica Pain

If you’re experiencing sciatica pain, you’re not alone. Sciatica is a common condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the lower back and legs. In this article, we’ll explore the causes of sciatica pain, its symptoms, and the different treatment options available to help alleviate your discomfort.

Table of Contents

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down to the legs, becomes compressed or irritated, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the lower back and legs. It is often caused by a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or a bone spur on the spine. However, there are many other conditions that could cause sciatica pain. In order to find the appropriate treatment option, it is crucial to understand and determine the source of your sciatica.

Common Causes of Sciatica Pain

There are several common causes of sciatica pain. These include herniated discs, obesity, trauma or injury, prolonged seating, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and bone spurs. Considering the long list of conditions and diseases that could be behind your sciatica pain, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the exact cause of your sciatica pain, as well as the most appropriate treatment options for your specific case.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person. The most common symptom is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the buttock and into the leg. This pain can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected leg or foot. Sciatica symptoms usually only affect one side of the body, and their severity could depend on the underlying cause of sciatica.

It’s important to note that sciatica pain can significantly impact your quality of life. Some of its symptoms can make it uncomfortable to perform certain daily activities, like walking, standing, or even sitting. Sciatica pain can also affect your sleep, as it can wake you up in the middle of the night and make it difficult to lie down comfortably. Besides all that, sciatica pain can be an obstacle to living a healthy lifestyle, since it can limit your mobility and your performance in exercise and sports.

Sciatica is a condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. However, there are some factors that could increase the risk of developing sciatica pain. It is typically more common in people over 40. The reason behind this is that the discs in the spine degenerate over time. This can lead to a compression of the sciatic nerve, which causes sciatica. In addition to that, certain jobs that require standing and sitting for a long time, or heavy lifting can increase the risk of sciatica pain.

Best Treatment Options for Sciatica Pain

Non-surgical treatment options for sciatica are often the first line of defense in managing the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. These options may include physical therapy and chiropractic care. Physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve, improve flexibility, and reduce inflammation. Chiropractic care focuses on spinal adjustments and manipulations to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.

New patients suffering from low back and sciatica pain should always begin with a consultation and exam. At this point, the main goal is to review your history with you to better understand your condition. It is also important to understand the impact sciatica has on your life. Particularly, the things you enjoy doing that you can no longer do. Most patients finally take notice of their pain when they can’t do what they have to do and love to do either totally or partially and simply want to return to normal.

After the consultation, our doctors will perform a thorough exam, including assessing your posture, range of motion, and muscle strength. Performing orthopedic and neurological tests is also necessary to evaluate the function of your nerves and joints. In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans could be required to evaluate the spine’s condition and rule out any underlying conditions. Once detected the root of your sciatica pain, a qualified doctor will develop a personalized treatment that fits your condition and your needs. This may include a combination of chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue therapy, exercise, and lifestyle modifications.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help You Treat Sciatica

Sometimes, sciatica pain is caused by a misalignment of the vertebrae. This can put pressure on the spinal nerves, including the sciatic nerve. As a consequence, nerve inflammation, irritation, and compression can lead to muscle tension and spasms in the lower back. Over time, these symptoms can degenerate the tissues surrounding the nerve, as well as the nerve itself, leading to chronic sciatic pain. Chiropractors are qualified to correct this condition through various techniques. Spinal adjustments and manual therapies can correct and restore proper alignment and function to the spinal vertebrae. Consequently, this will lead to reducing pressure on the nerves, improving the range of motion, and promoting overall health and wellness.

When we treat sciatica at PA Pain & Rehab, our main goal is for you to get back to your life as fast as possible. We understand that the body heals through movement. For that reason, we will design a customized plan based on your functional assessment. By doing so, we will contribute to strengthening your muscle, improving your range of motion, and speeding up recovery times. In addition to providing chiropractic care in the office, we will also give you at-home sciatica exercises so you can continue your healing at home.

What Can I Do at Home to Reduce Sciatica Pain?

Exercise is a really useful tool for any sciatica treatment plan. Nevertheless, it’s very important to choose exercises that will actually help you recover and won’t make matters worse. A good workout plan for sciatica recovery includes hamstring stretches, pelvic tilts, and gluteal stretches. Since Muscle tightness can put extra pressure on the sciatic nerve, exercises that reduce muscle tension and improve the stability of the spine are key.

In addition to that, there are some stretches that you can do anytime, anywhere, to help you alleviate the pain and improve your posture, alignment, and mobility.

How Can Sciatica Pain Affect My Sleep?

As we said before sciatica can really alter your sleeping cycles. Not only the pain will make it harder for you to lie down comfortably, but it can also wake you up in the middle of the night, and overall limit the quality of your sleep. Having said that, there are some sleeping positions that may help alleviate sciatica pain:

  • Sleeping on your side: Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can help to align your hips and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Sleeping on your back: Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees can help to reduce pressure on the lower back and sciatic nerve.
  • Sleeping in a fetal position: Sleeping in a fetal position with a pillow between your knees can help to reduce pressure on the lower back and sciatic nerve.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach can put extra pressure on the lower back and exacerbate sciatica pain.

Chiropractic Care vs Medical Care for Sciatica. What’s Better for You?

When considering all the treatment options available for sciatica pain, it’s important to understand the differences between chiropractic and medical care. Chiropractic care can be a safe and effective first-line treatment for sciatica. Chiropractors can identify misalignments in the spine and other musculoskeletal imbalances that contribute to sciatic nerve compression and irritation. Therefore, chiropractic care can help reduce inflammation and pressure on the sciatic nerve. By visiting your chiropractor, you can also improve flexibility, strength, and mobility.

Unlike other treatment options, such as medication or surgery, chiropractic care is non-invasive and typically does not have significant side effects. This makes it a safe and effective option for many people with sciatica, including those who may be unable or unwilling to undergo more invasive procedures.

Overall, seeking chiropractic care for sciatica first can help you avoid more aggressive and potentially risky treatments while providing a conservative and holistic approach to addressing the underlying cause of your symptoms.

PA Pain and Rehab

Our chiropractors have a combined 213 years of accident injury experience and have served Philadelphia for over 20 years while helping more than 23,000 patients just like you get back their quality of life