Friday, July 19, 2024

What is Sciatica? How to Get Pain Relief

HomeHealthWhat is Sciatica? How to Get Pain Relief

Picture this: you’re going about your day, feeling fine, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a sharp, shooting pain descends upon your buttocks like a lightning bolt. Sitting down is suddenly an Olympic-level challenge, and standing back up becomes a physical feat completely devoid of any grace.”  

Introducing sciatica – pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, typically affecting one side of the body and extending from the lower back through the hips and down the leg. Tingling or numbness also are common symptoms and discomfort can worsen with prolonged sitting or standing. 

Sciatica is often caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which can result from degenerative changes, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis. 

“People 55 and older are at particular risk of sciatica due to age-related degenerative changes and muscle strength loss,” says Dr. Tina Warren of Oakleaf Chiropractic and Injury Center in Jacksonville. “Aging can lead to wear and tear on the spine, causing discs to lose water content and height, leading to conditions that may impinge on the sciatic nerve.”

Treatments for sciatica may include: 

  • Physical Therapy: Targeted exercises and stretches can help alleviate sciatic pain.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold packs can reduce inflammation and soothe pain.
  • Epidural Steroid Injections: These injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area.
  • Chiropractic Care: Spinal adjustments and manipulations may relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese medicine involving the insertion of thin needles at specific points can offer pain relief.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical intervention may be considered to address underlying issues.

Though medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants may provide relief, “they don’t address the cause,” says Dr. Warren, who advises seeing a doctor if your sciatica symptoms last for several days or return. Mild sciatica usually goes away over time, but if pain lasts longer than a week or you have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder, it’s time to get professional help.  

“Seeing both a chiropractor and a physical therapist who create a coordinated treatment plan is an excellent option for resolving the issues that cause sciatica.”

Photo Credit: Kindel Media  

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