For most people sciatic nerve pain happens infrequently and is only a minor annoyance. For others, the pain can be debilitating and keep you from performing everyday activities.
Whichever category you fall in when it happens you feel it and it hurts.
What is a Sciatic Nerve?
Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It starts at your lower back, stretches down your buttocks and continues down the back of each leg.
Sciatic nerve pain or sciatica is most commonly caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal that contains your spinal cord or lumbar spinal stenosis. This narrowing leads to the compression of the sciatic nerve and it’s roots.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatic nerve pain is not a medical condition, it is the result of an underlying condition that causes the nerve to become compressed, inflamed or pinched.
Common Causes of Sciatica
- Degenerative disc disease
- Muscle spasms
- Slipped vertebra
- Spinal injury
- Spinal neoplasm
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Sciatic Nerve Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for sciatica. Often times the pain will subside on its own. Other times the following treatments will help to relieve and/or control the pain.
- For sciatica due to inflammation apply a cold compress to reduce inflammation
- For sciatica due to muscle spasms a hot bath will help control spasms
- Pain management for those with constant sciatica. Your doctor may prescribe painkillers and antidepressants to help manage your pain and anxiety
- Physical therapy & rehabilitation
- Spinal adjustments
- Anti-inflammatory medication therapy
- Lower back conditioning and stretching
- Electric muscle stimulator
- Bed rest
- Alternate lying down with short walks gradually increasing your walking distance
- In the case of a dislodged disc and as a last resort surgery may be needed
Diagnosis requires a physical and neurological exam of your spine and legs. Your chiropractor may also ask you to perform some basic movements to test your reflexes and sensory and muscle strength.
Depending on the cause of your sciatic nerve pain an experienced chiropractor will put together a custom treatment plan that covers several of the methods mentioned above.