13 Dec Why a Multi-Treatment Approach to Sciatica Pain Will Increase Healing Potential
Sciatica is often misunderstood simply because it is a symptom of various conditions. Consider that the pain radiates along the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body and may occur anywhere along that nerve. Pain may radiate down one or both legs. For some people, there is a sense of numbness or pins and needles, for others, there is intense pain or, muscular weakness. Pain is likely to vary in both frequency and intensity. When it occurs, it can impact life considerably affecting how the individual sleeps, sits, walks, stands and of course, mood.
There are numerous reasons as to why sciatica occurs. It is essentially a set of symptoms involving one of five spinal nerve roots. Compression of the sciatic nerve may be caused by repetitive stress, poor posture or, through arthritis of the back and pregnancy and childbirth may also be likely causes. Pressure on the sciatic nerve through spinal stenosis or bone spurs can be painful as pain radiates all the way down the nerve.
Risk factors include:
- Age – sciatic seems to occur mostly for those between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
- Weight- carrying a few additional pounds places additional pressure on the spine. Increased weight or pregnancy weight gain will also increase the potential of a herniated disc.
- Diabetes – this may cause damage to the nerve
- Work- too much lifting or sitting for prolonged periods can damage the disc.
In the main, sciatica tends to ease within a week or two without any additional treatment, but it is possible to ease the symptoms by applying an ice pack against the painful areas for a few days and then, switch to a series of heat packs which should help ease pain or inflammation. Over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can also be effective. It is often considered that rest is the best solution for sciatica pain, but a gentle movement is best. Resting can simply apply more pressure and pain as the nerve remains irritated in one position. If the pain becomes unbearable, medical assistance and advice should always be sought. A visit to a pain management specialist will consider all symptoms during the initial assessment and may wish to try a multi-treatment approach.
- Physical therapy – works to help alleviate pain experienced but to also improve overall flexibility. Within a session, the therapist may use a variety of treatments including electrical stimulation and ultrasound.
- Epidural steroid injection – a corticosteroid injection can help to lessen pain and inflammation and depending on the individual, an anesthetic may also be added.
- Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) – electrodes are placed along the spine and a mild electrical current is emitted which works by interrupting pain signals.
There are other beneficial options if you wish to learn how to relieve sciatica pain, as chiropractic treatments have been proven to help. These can be used effectively alongside other treatments.
A chiropractor takes a whole-body approach to pain and recovery. The first step will be to determine the cause of sciatica and this means reviewing the individual’s medical history and providing a physical and neurological examination. Spinal adjustments are likely so to ease the irritability of the nerve and to ensure any misaligned vertebrae return to their correct positioning, chiropractors also use a TENS machine – transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and ultrasound. Sciatica may respond well to a variety of treatments although some health disorders may require specific treatments.