Sciatica is pain that can be accompanied by numbness, tingling and occasionally weakness along the course of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the thickest in the body and is formed from nerve roots exiting the spine, and extend into the buttocks and down the back of the legs to the toes. Common causes of sciatica along with non-surgical treatment options are presented by a chiropractor and a physical therapist.
Causes of Sciatica and Non-Surgical Care
Compressed Lumbar Disc also called lumbar radiculopathy
Probably one of the most common causes of sciatica that I treat. About 90% of patients have a positive response to alternative/non-surgical treatment. I use x-rays as a guide to follow where the nerve is compressed and where the best manipulation areas are for me to adjust. Spinal manipulation is a very safe procedure and most cases will heal without surgery.
Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C. and a practicing physical therapist “Combined with chiropractic treatment and massage, we may use a topical steroid combined with electric stimulation or ultrasound to adjust/release the area where the nerve is compressed.”
Lumbar traction is also used to reduce the size of the disc herniation and combine this with exercises, which are customized to the patient. Extending back and flexing exercises are also incorporated into the treatment plan and each is made specific to the patient. Patients may experience muscle spasms or joint stiffness, which is also relieved by massage therapy and joint mobilizations. Patients could also be trained on Kinesio tape application to relieve pressure and relax muscles.
Remember that strengthening the core is the key to reduce the risk of worsening the injury and getting new ones.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
This is a condition that can be difficult to treat because of the mechanical nature of the compression on the nerves. The cause is often a combination of osteoarthritis, disc bulging and spinal holes that have narrowed called neuroforamen. Physical therapy consists of traction, stretching, exercises, and chiropractic to lessen pain and inflammation.
This condition can be caused by trauma or degeneration of the spine. Conservative care is highly beneficial.
Extending the spine can worsen symptoms, therefore flexion-based exercises are what we recommend. Therapeutic exercises are utilized for abdominal strengthening and core stabilization. We get the patient to increase hip extension to reduce stress on the lumbar spine. Manual therapies can also be used to control inflammation and alleviate muscle tightness or spasms.
Piriformis syndrome also responds positively to conservative treatment. We look for the main cause when we see piriformis syndrome. This type of injury happens when a patient has a job or play a sport where they shorten and overuse the muscle.
We create a custom treatment/exercise program based on what is found structurally. Most of the time the piriformis muscle gets over-used because the hips are weak, so strengthening the hips and the core is key. Sciatic nerve mobilization can also help increase sciatic nerve mobility. This can be achieved with instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization/Graston technique along with deep tissue massage will get optimal results.
Sciatic symptoms often do present in pregnant women, which can make the pregnancy miserable. Our goal is to reduce symptoms and restore normal function with gentle exercise, massage, and hot/cold therapy.
The pelvic girdle is what we focus on, along with core stabilization, and Kinesio tape application to stabilize the girdle because of ligamentous laxity or loosening of the hips.
Any kind of trauma that hits the gluteal area can become inflamed and spasm and bind around the sciatic nerve. We focus on relieving the pain and inflammation with manual therapies, and gentle exercises. These are based on what is found from the examination and how intense/extensive the trauma was.
Light spinal mobilization and massage have been proven to activate the body’s natural painkillers to alleviate and release the tight muscles. More rigorous exercises are brought in to the treatment plan as the patient gets stronger. These will strengthen their core and get them back to regular activities, job, and their sport.
Sciatic Nerve Pain Treatment | El Paso, Tx
You may be suffering from sciatica if you have ever experienced a shooting, nerve-like pain down one of your legs. The sciatic nerve can be impacted by a number of different things, including injury and degenerative diseases, that can lead to sciatica. Fortunately, chiropractic can be an effective non-surgical treatment for sciatica.
A car accident can easily damage the spine and soft tissues. An auto accident may cause a misalignment of the spine, a herniated disc, or other injuries that cause symptoms of sciatica.