If you ever feel shooting pain, numbness, or tingling down your leg, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing sciatica nerve pain. This painful condition affects up to 40% of the population at some point.
Sciatica can result from injury, overuse, wear and tear, and often, inactivity! Let’s learn about sciatica and the best ways to treat it so you can move forward confidently and embrace an active lifestyle—without any pain!
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve (the largest and longest nerve in your body) runs from your lower back, through your hips and bottom, down the back of your leg, and into your foot. When there is pressure on this nerve, it causes sciatic nerve pain somewhere along this pathway.
Herniated or bulging disks, spinal misalignment, poor posture, inflammation, or overused muscles are possible causes of sciatica nerve pain. It is typically felt on one side of the body as shooting pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness.
Sciatica Treatment Options
If your sciatica pain began after trauma to your back, please get checked out by a medical doctor to diagnose the cause using scans. In severe cases of disk herniation, surgery might be your only option.
The good news is that most cases of sciatica aren’t serious and resolve in a few weeks without surgery. Here are the treatment options that provide relief but also address the cause of the problem—which is essential for a full recovery!
If your sciatica nerve pain started after a particularly strenuous activity, you might just need to rest. Avoid bed rest for longer than a few days, though, as prolonged bed rest introduces its own complications. Mild activity is preferable as it encourages circulation, which helps reduce inflammation.
Heat and Ice
Start by applying ice to the area for 15 minutes three to four times a day to reduce inflammation on the nerve. After a couple of days, use both ice and heat on the area. The ice reduces swelling, while the warmth dilates blood vessels and encourages circulation. This promotes healing in the area. The relief is definitely worth the hassle.
NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) offer welcome relief to sciatica pain. Only use them for a short time and read the directions carefully. These can help you get moving again if you haven’t been able to, but they aren’t a long-term solution. Other medications include steroid injections and more potent prescription drugs.
Sitting for too long puts pressure on your sciatic nerve. One of the best ways to combat sciatica caused by inactivity is to move and stretch your body. Certain yoga stretches can provide welcome relief. Always warm up your body with mild activity, like walking, first.
Chiropractic care takes a holistic approach to sciatica. Your chiropractor will examine your spine and use adjustments to ensure your vertebrae are optimally aligned. On your lower back, spinal manipulation reduces pressure on your sciatic nerve and brings welcome relief. Expect to hear some clicking and popping noises.
Poor posture affects your entire body, including your nerves. Your chiropractor will assess your posture and address any weaknesses with targeted strengthening exercises. They will also teach you how to stretch to reduce tension in the muscles around your sciatic nerve—you’ll have some homework between visits!
Through manual therapy or targeted massage, your chiropractor will reduce tension and inflammation in the muscles that affect your sciatic nerve providing much-needed relief.
When ignored, sciatica leads to less and less activity which worsens the condition and seriously affects your health! No, sciatica doesn’t have to be a life sentence or an unavoidable sign of aging. To find relief and enjoy an active and balanced life, contact Integrated Health, your local chiropractor in Atlanta, GA, and say goodbye to sciatica for good!