Anyone who has ever suffered from sciatica knows how painful it is. It consists of pain in the leg, usually the thigh, that extends up into the buttocks and lower back. It can come on suddenly or have a gradual onset. It may cause a tingling or burning sensation on the affected side or even numbness. It’s usually the result of a pinched nerve and is so painful, many people opt for pain medications to deal with it. However, chiropractic care might be the better option.
Since the nerve that is affected in sciatica is in the lower back, it causes the pain to radiate down the legs, often on just one side. The pain can be debilitating. Many different conditions can cause it, including piriformis syndrome, a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. When you receive chiropractic care, you can receive an accurate diagnosis about the cause of sciatica, and find out if you even have this condition at all.
A physical exam is usually used to determine if you have sciatica. When you go in for an exam, your care provider will evaluate you from head to toe. One test used in particular is the straight-leg-raise test, which involves lying on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Then, he or she will raise each of your legs and ask you at what elevation you first notice pain. This can help to identify what nerves in particular are the source of the problem.
A few other tests you might need to undergo before getting chiropractic treatment include an MRI, X-rays, nerve conduction velocity studies, and a myelogram.
Treatment is typically used to manage pain and to return range of motion to those afflicted. The first line of treatment is often lying on the floor or on a very firm mattress. Physical therapy is also sometimes used, as is prescription or over-the-counter pain medication to reduce inflammation. Common drugs include Advil and Aleve. Sometimes, muscle relaxants are prescribed to reduce associated muscle spasms. Sometimes, practicing specific exercises can help strengthen the surrounding muscles and reduce the pressure on the pinched nerves.
In rare cases, surgery is used to correct the problem. However, most people will respond to chiropractic treatment for their sciatica and can resume a normal standard of living. It may take some time to remedy the problem but with regular treatment, you will be back up and pain-free in no time.
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