Welcome to the Family Chiropractic & Massage blog! Here, we will discuss anything and everything that has to do with chiropractic care and wellness. We will share helpful information and hopefully answer any questions you have through our articles. We are a chiropractic clinic that began in 1997 and has since grown to locations in North Charleston, Summerville, and Moncks Corner, South Carolina. We are dedicated to providing tailored care and treatment with traditional and new techniques to help our patients reach their wellness goals. We treat a variety of conditions including neck pain, back pain, injuries, sciatica, scoliosis, and more. Besides chiropractic care, we also offer physiotherapeutic care, rehabilitative care, and massage therapy. Our licensed massage therapists offer all types of massage from deep tissue to compression massage and more. We are strong believers in natural healing! Check out our website to find out more information about the services and care we offer, and contact us today to schedule an appointment with our experienced doctors!

In our last post, we talked about the importance of setting health goals and how to achieve them. Oftentimes, our overall health depends on the choices we make. We discussed SMART goals as well as other tips for making sure you achieve your health goals, such as writing your goals down, visiting a chiropractor, and more. If you are interested in learning more about how to achieve your health goals, be sure to check out our last post!

Today, we’ll be discussing sciatica, symptoms, possible causes, and treatments. You’ve probably heard about sciatica before, but sometimes people misunderstand what it actually is. Sciatica refers to pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve. This pain can range from mild to severe, with mild cases usually subsiding within a few weeks. If you want to learn more about sciatica, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.

What is the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body. The roots of the nerve start in the lower back, just outside of the spine, and the nerve runs through the pelvis and then down the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve is known as a mixed nerve, meaning it has both motor and sensory fibers. It controls the muscles in the back of the knee and lower leg and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, the outer and back part of the lower legs, and the soles of the feet. Despite what many think, sciatica is actually a symptom of an underlying medical problem, not a condition itself. 

What are the causes of sciatica? 

Sciatica can have a multitude of causes, but it is most often caused by pressure put on the sciatica nerve. This is often due to a herniated disk or overgrowth of a bone known as bone spurs. In rare cases, the pressure on the nerve can be due to a tumor. Sometimes, conditions such as diabetes can damage the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica. There are also certain factors that can increase your risk of sciatica. These factors include:

  • Obesity: Excess weight puts extra pressure on the spine and sciatic nerve.
  • Age: As we age, our spine undergoes changes. Some of these changes can cause herniated discs and bone spurs, which can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. 
  • Occupation: If your job requires a lot of heavy lifting or sitting for prolonged periods, you may be more susceptible to sciatica.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

The most well known symptom of sciatica is pain down the leg. However, the pain can vary from a mild ache to a burning sensation or sharp pain. Some people describe the feeling as a jolt or electric shock. For some, sciatica is so painful that they are unable to move. In most cases, sciatica only affects one side of the body. In addition to pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness can also be a symptom of sciatica. For some people, one part of the leg will be in pain while the other part is numb. Sciatica pain may get worse in the following situations:

  • When sneezing, coughing, or laughing
  • At night
  • After standing or sitting

How is sciatica treated?

As mentioned above, sciatica is not a condition. Rather, it is a symptom of another medical condition. Therefore, the underlying cause must be identified and treated. If you have persistent sciatica that does not improve, it is time to see a medical professional. When left untreated, sciatica can cause permanent nerve damage. A doctor may order diagnostic imaging such as an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan to identify the cause of the pain. If you are looking for an all natural way to treat sciatica, seeing a chiropractor may be beneficial. Chiropractic care can relieve pain without the use of medication and is extremely safe and effective. Chiropractic treatment for sciatica includes adjustments, as well as stretching and applying controlled pressure to the joints. Your chiropractor may also recommend physical therapy, provide you with exercises to try at home, or other therapies such as heat and cold therapy. Additionally, lifestyle changes may be recommended. 

Can sciatica be prevented?

Sciatica can’t always be prevented, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk. For example, exercising regularly can lower your risk of developing sciatica. Exercise keeps your joints flexible, and if you do exercises that are meant for your core, you can strengthen those muscles and improve the flexibility of your spine. The core muscles are those in your abdomen and lower back that are needed for good posture and alignment. Back exercises are also beneficial for strengthening your back. Some other great exercises for sciatica include hamstring stretches and pelvic tilts. 

Besides exercise, it is important to be mindful of your posture, especially when sitting. Choose a seat with good lower back support and keep your back straight and shoulders back. If you need to sit for a prolonged period of time, be sure to change positions often and get up and stretch or walk around approximately every 30 minutes. 

Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight is a good way to prevent back problems, including sciatica. As mentioned above, excess weight puts extra pressure on the spine, which could lead to sciatica. The extra weight can alter the natural curve of your spine, strain the muscles and ligaments that support your back, and put pressure on nerves. Maintaining a healthy weight is great for your spine, and for your overall health!

As you can see, sciatica can be very painful, but you don’t have to suffer in silence– Chiropractic care is a great treatment option! We hope you found this article informative, and we encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. It would be a pleasure to assist you. Here at Family Chiropractic & Massage, we offer chiropractic care as well as massage services and heat and cold therapy. We have doctors who have studied various chiropractic techniques to render care to patients with different types of conditions. As people vary, so do the techniques chosen to help each patient get well. We use evidence-based treatment methods to help patients get better faster. If you are suffering from any type of back pain, contact us today to set up an appointment so we can assess your needs and create an effective treatment plan. One of our experienced doctors would love to help get you on the right track to living a healthy, pain-free life! Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll check back for more articles about chiropractic care and all it has to offer!