Chiropractic Treatment of Sciatica
Sciatica is caused by the compression of the spinal nerve roots of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a rather large and important nerve that begins in the lower back and goes down both legs. Symptoms of sciatica can include: pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs; weakness or numbness in those areas; or tingling sensations in the leg.
There are numerous conditions that can lead to or directly cause sciatica. One such cause is spinal disc herniation, commonly known as a “slipped disc.” If the herniated disc presses on one of the nerve roots, this can cause the symptoms of sciatica to occur. Another condition that can cause these symptoms is spinal stenosis, where a narrowing of the spinal canal can cause the compression. Sciatica can also occur during the course of pregnancy, as the weight of the fetus can press against the sciatic nerve.
There are a variety of methods that a chiropractor can use to treat sciatica. The intent of chiropractic treatment is to facilitate the body to heal itself. Treatment methods used by chiropractors are always non-invasive and do not rely on the use of drugs.
One such method of treatment is ultrasound. Ultrasound utilizes the small amount of heat created by sound waves that make it deep into muscle tissue. This increases circulation which in turn reduces the likelihood of muscle spasms, swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Another method of treatment of sciatica is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, also known as a TENS unit. The TENS is a small, battery-operated machine that uses small electrical currents to stimulate muscle tissue. They are typically small and portable so that they can be used in the home to treat a variety of conditions, but in chiropractic medicine, they are often larger units meant for in-office use.
Spinal adjustment or manipulation, however, is the primary tool used by chiropractors to treat sciatica. Manipulation of the spinal column is meant to improve the overall movement of the spine, while helping to restore misaligned vertebra to their appropriate place. The overall effect of spinal adjustments is that they help to control inflammation, pain, and other issues caused by the irritation of nerves such as the sciatic nerve.
Since sciatica is primarily caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, and the chiropractic method of spinal manipulation eases pressure on the nerves of the body, spinal manipulation is often times the most appropriate and helpful treatment for sciatica. Chiropractors can also use physical therapy methods, such as exercises and stretching along with spinal manipulation to aid in the treatment.