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What is Sciatica

Sciatica. You’ve probably heard of it, but you may not know what it is. You may even have sciatica and not know it. Sciatica’s hard to diagnose—it’s not a disease, but rather a range of symptoms caused by pressure affecting your sciatic nerve, the widest and longest nerve in your body. It’s the nerve that runs from the lower spine, passing through the pelvis and then down each of your legs. It supplies and distributes nervous energy to the lower leg muscles, the back of the knees, calves and ankles.

You first may become aware of sciatica through one or more of its many symptoms, such as lower back pain, inflammation, numbness or pain in a leg, or a tingling sensation in a leg. In severe cases, sciatica can be very debilitating and very painful, weakening a leg and restricting movement. Unfortunately, given its range of symptoms, traditional medical providers often misdiagnose sciatica, which can lead to needless invasive procedures or the prescribing of hazardous prescription drugs.

Causes of sciatica

Sciatica can have many causes. Compression of the sciatic nerve can come from such a seemingly minor thing as years of bad posture. More common origins are herniated disks, degenerative joint disease or bone spurs. Misaligned vertebrae are another possibility, as are tumors, slipped discs, childbirth and pregnancy. Chronic disorders not directly associated with the spine can also be a source of sciatica, such as constipation or diabetes.

Chiropractic and Sciatica

Many people with sciatica come to chiropractors because of chiropracty’s reputation for relieving pain, especially of the lower back pain and neck. Determining if your condition really is sciatica and if so, its cause, is your chiropractor’s first concern. A solid diagnosis will require a thorough review of your medical history and a complete physical exam. This may include a CT scan, x-rays, a nerve velocity test, an MRI and an electromyography test. Your chiropractor will discuss the diagnosis and the recommended treatment options with you. If there’s an underlying condition that would exclude certain therapies, this too will be discussed.

Typical chiropractic therapies for sciatica

Spinal manipulation – Chiropracty’s core competency lies in its mastery of treatment through spinal adjustment. Your chiropractor is adept at using proven techniques to restore correct alignment and proper functioning to your spine. Spinal treatments are proven to relieve the nerve compression that causes sciatic pain. With proper spinal functioning restored, muscle spasms, pain along the sciatic nerve areas and inflammation can be alleviated. To help restore mobility and ease your sciatic pain, your chiropractor may also use other treatment methods. Some typical ones are:

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or a TENS Unit—a portable device that helps control pain and spams by bringing varying intensities of electrical current to bear on the affected areas.

Ultrasound—used to lessen sciatic symptoms such as cramping, spasms and swelling. It penetrates tissues and eases pain.

Ice Cold Therapy - Properly applied, cold eases sciatic pain and helps restore mobility.

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Had me walking straight again in just a couple visits. Great staff. Will continue to use them for my care. 

San Antonio, TX

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