Can Chiropractic care help my sciatica symptoms?
Short answer: Yes, it can!! Keep reading for why:
Let's start with what sciatica is.
Sciatica is pain from your Sciatic Nerve. While it is a general, non-specific diagnosis, it describes pain in your sciatic nerve pathway. Below is an anatomical picture of your sciatic nerve.
As you can see, your sciatic nerve comes from multiple nerve roots in your lumbar spine, which then combine to form your sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body. It travels through your thigh and splits into 2 nerves near your knee. Your Sciatic nerve is about as thick as your middle finger!
Typical Sciatica symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Leg Numbness
- Low Back Pain, Buttock Pain, Leg Pain
- Weakness in Leg
- Foot or Calf Pain
While there are multiple causes of sciatica, we have found the 2 below to be the most common:
Compression at the nerve root: Whether through degeneration, spinal stenosis, disc bulges, disc herniations, or other involvement at the nerve root.
Piriformis Syndrome: Your Sciatic nerve pierces your Piriformis muscle, and an angry Piriformis can cause some nerve compression, see below.
As your provider, we use a combination of symptom patterns, diagnostic tests, and medical history to determine the possible cause. This will also change which type of treatment we do.
Nerve Root Sciatica
- Our favorite treatment for this is spinal decompression. We have a decompression table (learn more here), that helps decompress the nerve roots. It uses a gentle traction to help your body heal the bulged or herniated disc. This takes some pressure off that nerve root, lessening the sciatic symptoms.
- We also want to get more movement into your lumbar spine. We do this through chiropractic adjustments, spinal mobilizations, stretches, and exercises.
- My favorite exercise is the prone press up. This helps get some extension into your lower back.
Piriformis Syndrome Induced Sciatica:
- As stated above, an angry piriformis can make an angry sciatic nerve. This is a common syndrome in those who sit all day, whether driving or in an office. This puts a lot of strain on the piriformis, as well as decreasing it's blood supply and movement.
- Some treatment for this includes mobilization of your hip and pelvic joints, piriformis muscle releases, as well as stretches and exercises.
- My favorite piriformis stretch is the figure-4 stretch:
Regardless of the cause, I always like to recommend nerve flossing to help the pain. This is a nerve stretching technique that can help your nerve glide better throughout the body. Ask your provider to show you this technique!
Whatever the cause, sciatica stinks and is painful. The best way to get help is to meet with a practitioner to properly assess the cause, determine a proper care plan, and can help you with some lifestyle changes that can help lessen symptoms. The above is not medical advice, and should not be performed without clearance from your doctor.
Experiencing Sciatica symptoms? Contact us today to get started on your care!