What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom that is commonly described as pain, tingling or burning down the back of the leg. The sciatic nerve starts in the low back and runs down the buttocks, the legs all the way to the feet. The pain can run down the leg in any area and the pattern can help the doctor diagnose the possible causes of sciatica. Most commonly, the cause is in the spine such as herniated disc or spinal stenosis, but other causes are outside the spine. The pain is caused by a lesion pressing on the nerve. The nerve becomes inflamed and the nerve causes the pain. Fortunately, most cases can be resolved without surgery, and sometimes it resolves on it’s own.
When to See A Doctor for Sciatica?
If your symptoms have no improvement for 1 week, or if you are experiencing severe pain, or if you heard a “pop” with sudden intense pain, it’s time to talk to your doctor to avoid the possibility of permanent nerve damage. The doctor will take a thorough history, determine whether the damage is causing weakness or numbness in the leg, whether you have had any pre-existing conditions and what treatments you have already tried. Then, the doctor will do appropriate testing and physical exams to determine the underlying cause. Once you have a diagnosis, your doctor can recommend the treatments that will help.
Most commonly rest and an anti-inflammatory (prescription or ice) help with immediate relief. But, long term, the best treatment is physical treatments and exercise. While the pain will subside slowly, once the acute inflammation is relieved, you will be placed on an exercise program.
The most effective treatment is strengthening the core to avoid flare-ups. Most everyone that presents with low back pain and sciatica are sedentary and work in a job that consists of prolonged sitting. Prolonged sitting promotes poor posture and weak core muscles. These muscles need to rest after an acute flare-up, but only for a few days because deconditioning is what lead to the problem in the first place. Anyone who has sciatica can tell you that prolonged sitting will exacerbate the pain. So, as soon as possible, the doctor will start you on exercises to protect the area. She may also prescribe vitamins B6 and B12 to help with nerve health. And it almost goes without saying that any extra weight in the abdomen will make a person more prone to sciatica due to the stress on the weak core muscles.
Most people gain significant benefits from alternative treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic. A licensed acupuncturist can be very helpful in treating chronic pain. A chiropractor is a licensed doctor who can help you with the underlying cause of the pain, depending on the diagnosis. Chiropractors diagnose and treat low back pain, neck pain and other joint pain by adjusting the joints that are causing the inflammation in the nerve. This also increases mobility, releases endorphins, and helps the body function better. A chiropractor will take your history, perform appropriate exams and take X-rays or MRI if they deem it is necessary to diagnose the injury. A massage therapist can also help with pain relief and even release the cause of the injury depending on the diagnosis. Massage therapy increases blood flow, releases muscle tightness which may be causing inflammation, and makes the body release endorphins. If your low back pain or leg pain is severe enough to impede your movement, you can look into having a Chiropractor come to your house. Call 407-716-6553 if you live in Central Florida and need Chiropractic/Massage
After treatment, you may have several days to recover, but after that, it is very important that you exercise regularly. Once the pain is gone, you may be tempted to cease the physical therapy, but it is imperative that you continue doing the exercises to prevent aggravating the symptoms again. By exercising regularly, you will reduce the chances of a flare-up. The core muscles are the most important group to focus on and your doctor will give you the appropriate exercises for your individual injury. Low back pain doesn’t have to disrupt your life permanently, but you will have to make some lifestyle changes to prevent deterioration and improve your health.