Sciatic nerve pain (also known as sciatica) is a common symptom that affects more than 3 million Americans each year. Doctors estimate that as many as 4 in 10 adults will experience sciatica at least once in their lives. The pain, which can range from mild to intense, originates from the sciatic nerves and impacts the legs, back and buttocks. What can you do to treat this painful symptom and restore your well-being?
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down each leg from your lower back and ends just below your knee. It is the longest, widest nerve in the human body. Typically, sciatic nerve pain affects one leg or the other. It does not typically occur in both legs at the same time. This is because the pain results from pressure to or injury of the sciatic nerve after it has branched into each leg. It generally originates from an injury or irritation to the lower lumbar or lumbosacral spine. The pain can reach all the way into the foot and toes of the affected leg, depending upon where the sciatic nerve is being aggravated.
The symptoms of sciatic nerve pain
Symptoms of sciatica include:
- Lower back pain
- Hip pain
- Constant pain in the buttock on the affected side
- Increasing pain or discomfort when sitting
- A shooting pain that travels through the leg and back when standing
- Tingling, numbness or burning sensations in the affected leg
- Weakness in the affected leg
- Difficulty moving the affected leg
Sciatica is not a condition by itself, but it is a symptom of other conditions, including:
- Muscle spasms in the back
- Disc herniation
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
The most common cause of sciatic nerve pain is a herniated disk in the lower lumbar or lumbosacral spine.
In addition to these conditions, your habits can create the right environment for sciatic nerve pain to occur. These include:
- Not exercising
- Being overweight
- Sleeping on surfaces that are too hard or too soft
- Wearing high heels frequently
You can successfully treat some of the causes of sciatic nerve pain, thereby eliminating it. Other conditions may make sciatic nerve pain a regular reality for you. However, you can learn to manage your pain!
Assessing sciatic nerve pain
Initially, it’s important to determine whether your sciatic nerve pain results from a temporary or resolvable condition. Therefore, it’s essential for us to examine the condition of your spine. Once we know where the pain originates and why it appears, we can develop a successful treatment plan to eliminate, minimize or manage your pain.
When your pain results from treatable, preventable or reversible conditions, you must address its underlying causes. If you sit for long periods of time at work or you do not exercise regularly, we can help develop a treatment plan to address these components of your wellness. Likewise, if your mattress is too hard or too soft, sciatic relief may also involve addressing this truth!
Women who wear high heels put themselves at a greater risk of developing sciatic nerve pain. If this describes you, we can show you why wearing high heels changes the alignment of your spine and opens you up to developing spinal nerve pain. By reducing the height of your heels or wearing flat shoes, you can allow your irritated spinal nerves to heal.
Improper weight management can also lead to the development of nerve pain. Carrying excess weight can put enormous stress on your legs, hips and lower back. By following a program of weight management designed to help shed pounds, we can not only help resolve your back pain, but also help you avoid other weight-induced common side effects.
Other conditions that can cause sciatica, like pregnancy, are temporary. If you experience sciatic nerve pain resulting from pregnancy, you can take comfort in the fact that your sciatica will resolve when you give birth to your baby. Until then, we can develop natural, non-invasive and non-drug therapies and interventions that can help relieve your pain.
Sciatic pain treatment
Making sure your spine is in good alignment can help relieve pressure on the discs in your back and allow an irritated disc to heal. We can provide effective sciatic pain treatment and relieve pressure on one or more affected discs, often in just a few visits.
Some patients also find sciatica relief in the form of alternating hot and cold compresses on the affected part of the spine.
Although it may not seem like it in the moment, exercises and light stretching can actually help relieve sciatica. By strengthening the muscles that support the lumbar and lumbosacral spine, you can diminish the nerve impairment. We can create a program of light stretching and exercise that can help strengthen your spinal muscles and keep your spinal vertebrae in proper alignment.
When your back pain results from chronic, degenerative conditions, we can provide a path to pain management that allows you to avoid the use of addictive, life-destructive pharmaceutical painkillers. Our treatments can help you manage your chronic pain naturally, and in some cases, help restore function and health that medical doctors may have told you was gone forever.