Sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica, often feels like severe, throbbing pain that can run from the low back down the entire length of one or both legs. When certain nerves become pinched in the lower spine running along the sciatic nerve, intense pain can develop, most often occurring in just one leg.
Sciatica is typically repetitive, and, sadly, many people suffering from sciatica don’t even know how they developed the problem in the first place or how to prevent it from happening again. Chiropractic adjustments are one of the most effective treatments for relieving sciatica, without the negative side effects of drugs or invasive procedures and with the added benefits of improved range of motion, increased immune system function, and reduced stress.
If you are suffering from sciatica, or other neck or back pain, and are looking for relief without potentially harmful drugs or surgery, contact us online at our Fort Collins office or call us at 970.377.3557 to learn more about how we can help.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica can be excruciatingly painful for many people, but it is also possible for the sciatic nerve to be pinched and cause no pain at all. This is the very reason that “feeling fine” does not necessarily mean you are healthy, and also why it is critically important to get your spine checked by a chiropractor even if you have no pain. However, if you have any or all of the following symptoms, do not hesitate to seek help from your chiropractor immediately.
Sciatica symptoms include:
- Throbbing and inflammation in the low back and/or thighs, especially when standing or sitting for a long time
- Strong, sometimes shooting pain in the low back, radiating in the buttocks, thighs, and lower extremities
- Numbness and tingling in the legs
- Problems moving or exercising
- Stiffness and inability to flex the feet
- Pain when trying to sleeping
Sciatic nerve pain can linger for weeks and cause nerve damage if allowed to continue untreated. Sciatica symptoms can appear to go away on their own, but will usually re-emerge periodically and cause further pain and suffering. Sciatica is more common in men than in women, more likely to develop in adults over the age of 30, and can happen to both active and sedentary individuals.
Causes of Sciatica
Subluxations, herniated discs, and inflammation are the main causes of sciatica. Subluxations are misalignments of the spine causing nerve pressure. If a vertebrae in the low back moves out of place, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve causing the intense symptoms associated with sciatica. In some cases, the pressure on the nerve can be due to a herniated disc, when part of the disc protrudes from a crack or tear and interferes with the nerve function. Inflammation in the body, and especially around the sciatic nerve, can also put pressure on the nerve. Studies show that inflammation can cause sciatica symptoms even in the absence of direct nerve compression because it triggers chronic, repetitive firing of the inflamed nerve root. And, for someone with a herniated disc, inflammation only makes the problem worse and increases the often already unbearable pain.
These causes of sciatica are the result of years of putting stress on our bodies and not taking the best care of ourselves. Extreme exercise, inactivity, poor posture, injuries, dehydration, poor diet, lack of sleep, and high levels of inflammation and stress all contribute to decreased good health and increased poor health. Do yourself and those you care about a favor and have everyone’s spine checked by your chiropractor as soon as possible.
- Age – sciatica is most common between the ages of 30 and 50
- Occupation – a job that requires you to twist, carry heavy loads, sit or drive for long periods, operate heavy equipment
- Obesity – excess body weight can contribute to sciatica by adding stress to the spine
- Dehydration – causes water loss in discs
- Scoliosis – abnormal curvature of the spine can cause low back pain
- Prolonged sitting – sitting for prolonged periods or having a sedentary lifestyle, weakening core muscles
- Strenuous or contact sports – high-impact, falls, hits, injuries
- Diabetes – affects the way your body uses blood sugar and increases the risk of nerve damage
- Genetics – inherited spinal abnormalities and subluxation patterns
- Hormonal changes – pregnancy and menopause
- Smoking – causes overall poor health and may cause disc degeneration
- Stress, anxiety, negative mood – increase risk for back pain
Sciatica Treatment & Prevention
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is your best bet for avoiding sciatica. First and foremost, get regular spinal adjustments from your chiropractor to keep your spine and nervous system functioning properly so your body can express vitality to its full potential. Exercise regularly to maintain spinal and overall health, focusing on core muscles to help maintain proper posture and spine support. Practice good posture when sitting and standing, and avoid either for prolonged periods. Eat a healthy diet full of as much organic, grass-fed, and fresh food as possible; avoid processed, packaged, and fast foods; and join a weight loss program to reach a healthy BMI. Drink plenty of water – if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Reduce your stress, meditate, write in a gratitude journal, think positive thoughts, and get enough regular, restful sleep.
Please contact Heart & Hand Chiropractic to find out how we can help you in your quest for optimal health. Contact our Fort Collins office today at 970.377.3557, or e-mail us online, to schedule a complimentary spinal screening.