Sciatica can be a real pain in the rear — literally. Sciatica symptoms are notoriously difficult to manage, even after you tackle the root cause. In fact, some patients visit us after seeing multiple other practitioners and trying numerous home remedies. If you can relate, you're probably wondering: What's the best treatment for sciatica? What actually works, and what should you avoid?
There's no one-size-fits-all treatment for this painful condition, but we have solutions for everyone with sciatica. Before you can treat sciatica, it's important to understand more about it. Consider the information below, whether you've got a sharp pain in your rear or your legs feel like they're on fire.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain that stems from the sciatic nerve. This large nerve runs through your lower back and butt, then sprawls down each leg and into your feet. When your sciatic nerve becomes inflamed, compressed or otherwise damaged, it often triggers a hard-to-manage bout of pain. This can happen if a disc in your lower back is out of place or the muscles surrounding your sciatic nerve become swollen. You may also experience sciatic pain if you have a condition such as neuropathy or neuralgia.
Sciatica is a symptom, not a condition itself. That's part of why it's so hard to alleviate sciatic pain. Your healthcare team members can't help you feel better until they determine which condition is triggering your sciatica. Even then, instant relief isn't guaranteed because you may have long-term nerve damage or other chronic issues.
What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
Sciatic pain is often severe, so it's unlikely you'll miss it. However, it can take on many forms. Keep an eye out for these symptoms, as they may indicate an issue with your sciatic nerve:
- Burning pain in your thighs or calves
- Paresthesia that occurs in your feet or legs
- Sharp, excruciating pain in your butt, lower back, legs, or feet
- Tingling or weakness in your legs or feet
- Persistent pain that does not get better when you walk, sit, or sleep
Many of our patients say sciatica is the worst pain they've ever felt. We hate to see our patients suffer, which is why we offer numerous options for sciatic pain management.
Treatments for Patients With Sciatica
Sciatica impacts everyone differently, so the treatment you choose should address the root cause of your pain. We'll help you figure out the culprit by performing a physical exam that includes digital imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI. We'll also examine CT scans, blood work, and medical information from other providers so we have a full picture of your health.
Once we understand what's triggering your pain, we'll offer a custom treatment plan for your specific needs. Your treatment may include a single service, such as chiropractic care, or a combination of remedies. We'll explain each option in detail before treatment begins so you can play an active role in your care.
Chiropractic Care for Sciatica
There are numerous spine-related issues that can trigger sciatica, including spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. That's why many of our patients with sciatic pain receive chiropractic care at Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine. Our skilled chiropractors can gently manipulate your spine into its natural position. This helps relieve pain from out-of-place discs that press against your sciatic nerve or cause inflammation in nearby muscles.
Physical Therapy for Sciatica
Physical therapy is helpful for many people with sciatica. Our physical therapists carefully stretch your body, which helps reduce pain from tight muscles or compressed nerves. Some patients perform physical therapy on a medical table, while others use balls or resistance bands to strengthen their core. Physical therapy can be a standalone solution for sciatica, or you can schedule appointments for chiropractic adjustments or acupuncture therapy as well.
Spinal Decompression for Sciatica
Spinal decompression is a popular solution for patients who want to avoid back surgery for sciatica. The machine may seem a bit intimidating if you've never had spinal decompression, but many patients love it. You simply lean against the table, wait for one of our trained professionals to strap you in, and then relax as the machine does its thing. Our spinal decompression machine gently moves and stretches your body for up to 45 minutes.
Treatment frequency varies for spinal decompression. However, we're happy to report that many patients experience some relief after just one session.
Stretches for Sciatica
Gentle stretches can soothe sciatic pain but be careful. The wrong type of physical activity can make pain worse. So can the right stretches if you perform them incorrectly or do them too often. That's why it's best to get exercise suggestions from a skilled physical therapist or other medical expert.
We recommend stretches based on the cause of your pain. If your upper legs are tight, we might recommend a standing hamstring stretch. Patients with discs that are out of alignment may benefit from cobra poses, as these help relieve spinal disc compression. Ask our team whether these or other exercises may help reduce your pain.
Acupuncture Therapy for Sciatica
Acupuncture therapy can be used on its own, but we often combine it with other treatments for sciatica. This ancient solution has been around for more than 2,500 years and involves small, thin needles that are placed throughout your body. It may sound a bit scary, but the process is typically fast, effective, and pain-free.
In addition to reducing sciatic pain, acupuncture can also help treat anxiety, migraines, reproductive problems, and arthritis. Let us know if you're considering acupuncture as part of your wellness plan so we can explain the benefits.
Many patients enjoy relief after noninvasive treatments such as chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression, or physical therapy. However, you may also find that therapeutic injections are a good fit for your lifestyle. Our injections help relieve pain and swelling via steroid distribution. This stimulates your body's natural healing process and provides lasting relief for many patients.
Contact Us Today if Sciatica Is Cramping Your Style
Sciatica can make it difficult to walk, drive, or even sleep. That's not fair to you or your loved ones. Nobody should have to live in constant pain, but we're here to help you tackle your sciatica. Book an appointment today if sciatic pain is hindering your usual routine, whether you've got severe pain in your lower back or an annoying tingling in your toes. We'll work with you to find solutions so you can get back on track.