One of the most common things people complain of, when they come to see us, is sciatica. When we ask where hurts is, some point to their leg, some to their back and a few to their shoulder. Clearly not everyone is clear exactly what it is, so what is sciatica? Sciatica is not, strictly speaking, a medical diagnosis, it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It is a lay term for pain that extends down the leg; pain that can really, really, really hurt!
Common Symptoms of Sciatica?
- Most often it starts in the lower back and travels into the thigh; it can travel further down the leg to the foot and toes.
- Sciatica is not only felt as pain, it can be felt as a burning or tingling sensation.
- In advanced cases there can be numbness or weakness of the leg muscles.
- Sciatica mostly affects one leg, rarely does it affect both.
How to Treat Sciatica?
With the causes listed above, in my humble opinion, a combination of Chiropractic adjustments, massage, stretching and cryotherapy (using an ice pack or Biofreeze). With this approach you are addressing any misalignment’s of the spine and pelvis through the Chiropractic adjustments; this takes the pressure off the nerves and aides the recovery of any disc herniation (‘slipped disc’).
Massage relaxes the tight muscles around the spine and the piriformis if needed, this encourages what the Chiropractic adjustments are doing and relaxes any trigger points in the muscles of the lower back and buttocks. The stretching helps between seeing your Chiropractor + sports massage therapist, and the ice pack reduces the inflammation around the nerve, again aiding a speedier recovery.
An important final note, The symptom sciatica can be caused by serious underlying complaints and should be checked thoroughly by a trained physician who performs a complete physical examination of your muscles and joints and neurological examination of your nerves. If you have any change in your bowel or bladder habits (unusually can’t control or go!) or numbness in your ‘saddle’ area, coupled with severe back or leg pain, then you potentially have something called ‘cauda equina’. This is a medical emergency and you should contact the emergency services straight away. As a Chiropractor it is our job to ensure that the complaint you have is a Chiropractic case.