Sciatica can cause pain, discomfort, tingling sensations and numbness along the entire length of the sciatic nerve. Also known as sciatic nerve pain, is a collection of symptoms caused by a variety of health issues. Many people will turn to the use of drugs and/or medications as well as surgery to treat sciatica, however, research studies have demonstrated that functional medicine can help improve sciatic nerve pain. As a matter of fact, a 2010 research study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapies demonstrated that approximately 60 percent of patients with sciatica benefited from alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care. Moreover, functional medicine approaches, including acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy, among other alternative treatment options, have been demonstrated to help improve sciatic nerve pain. Functional medicine can help safely and effectively provide sciatica pain relief.
Functional Medicine Approaches for Sciatica
Treatment for sciatica can depend largely on the underlying health issues causing the painful symptoms, therefore, it’s important for people to seek help from a healthcare professional. While many doctors choose to utilize drugs and/or medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers, or steroids, to treat sciatic nerve pain, many research studies have demonstrated that alternative treatment options can help improve sciatica. Below, we will discuss functional medicine approaches which can help improve sciatica symptoms.
Sciatica is a collection of symptoms characterized by radiating pain, tingling sensations, and/or numbness which extends throughout the length of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica, also known as sciatic nerve pain, is generally diagnosed through its symptoms and depending on the type of painful symptoms, a healthcare professional can safely and effective treat sciatic nerve pain. Functional medicine approaches, such as chiropractic as well as nutrition and lifestyle modifications, can ultimately help improve sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
One research study published in the Official Journal of the North American Spinal Society demonstrated that after comparing the results of 102 adults who suffered from sciatic nerve pain, those who received chiropractic care experienced less pain, fewer number of days with pain, and decreased instances moderate to severe pain compared to those adults who didn’t receive chiropractic care for their sciatica. Disk herniations are some of the most common causes of sciatica. There are several types of “ruptured” or herniated discs. Prolapse disc bulges are considered to be less severe because the outermost layer of the disc is still intact, however, extrusion or sequestration disc bulges are generally considered to be more painful. These types of ruptured or herniated discs cause damage to the outer layer of the spinal disc, which leads tissue to push through from where it’s normally constrained. This can compress the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms.
For healthcare professionals, it’s important to know the patient’s symptoms in order to understand their health issues and follow the appropriate treatment approach. Sciatica can be diagnosed during a physical exam by a chiropractor or doctor of chiropractic. Doctors can also perform X-rays and other tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, test to diagnose the condition of the spine. After diagnosis, a chiropractor may utilize spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to correct the spine and relieve sciatic nerve pain.
Stretches and exercise can aggravate sciatica, however, yoga has been demonstrated to help relieve sciatic nerve pain. Some people have reported that sitting and/or standing for extended periods of time and then moving around suddently can aggravate sciatica. Scrunching or shortening the spine, such as raising the legs up and/or bringing the knees towards the chest in a squatting position can commonly affect symptoms.
On the other hand, stretching and exercising the spine through yoga can help promote good posture while reducing stiffness, inflammation, and pain frequently associated with sciatic nerve pain. Research studies have demonstrated that yoga is a safe and effective treatment for people with sciatica. Some of the most important movements for preventing sciatic nerve pain focus on building strength and relaxing stiffness. Stretches and exercises may even be utilized in rehabilitation settings for patients with sciatica following surgery.
Acupuncture and Massage Therapy
Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine practice which is based on regulating overall health and wellness by opening the human body’s natural flow of energy. It utilizes small, virtually pain-free needles to target specific pathways in the human body. Acupuncture has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for back pain and it’s supported in a variety of research studies for relieving chronic pain, including sciatica.
Massage therapy is another non-surgical, holistic approach which helps open muscles, tissues, and channels of energy within the human body to help improve blood flow and reduce painful symptoms. Massage therapy helps reduce back pain, improve muscle relaxation, and even promote the healthy release of endorphins, or the natural “feel good” substances of the human body which act as pain relievers to improve painful symptoms.
Nutrition and Lifestyle Modifications
Approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients with low back pain also have sciatica, however, healthcare professionals have demonstrated that a patient’s nutrition and lifestyle can increase the risk of developing sciatic nerve pain. Also, factors like height, age, stress, being overweight or obese, sitting or standing for extended periods of time, and smoking, can also increase the risk of developing sciatica and other problems.
Many of these risk factors cause inflammation, which makes it difficult to heal from injuries and conditions. To prevent inflammation and improve the odds of developing sciatica, make sure to eat a nutrient-dense healing diet, avoid smoking/using recreational drugs, and participate in exercise as well as get good sleep. Constipation may also cause toxicity and inflammation. As a matter of fact, anything which causes toxicity or inflammation can cause sciatica. Nutrition and lifestyle modifications can ultimately help improve sciatic nerve pain.
Sciatica is a collection of symptoms caused by the compression or impingement of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Understanding the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain is essential towards obtaining a diagnosis in order to follow up with the best treatment. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topic Discussion: Severe Sciatica
Back pain is one of the most prevalent causes of disability and missed days at work worldwide. Back pain attributes to the second most common reason for doctor office visits, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Approximately 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at least once throughout their life. Your spine is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, among other soft tissues. Injuries and/or aggravated conditions, such as herniated discs, can eventually lead to symptoms of sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain. Sports injuries or automobile accident injuries are often the most frequent cause of painful symptoms, however, sometimes the simplest of movements can have these results. Fortunately, alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, can help ease sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, through the utilization of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, ultimately improving pain relief.
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