Sciatica or Sciatic Neuralgia is a common condition in which one of the spinal nerve roots of the sciatic nerve is compressed, causing an excruciating pain in the lower back, buttock and leg. Sciatic nerve is a large nerve derived from five spinal nerve roots, L4, L5, S1, S2 and S3. It travels from the lumbar spine through the buttock, down the leg into the foot – there is one sciatic nerve at each side of the body.
A typical sciatica pain is described as the sharp-shooting pain in the lower back, down the buttock and thigh, towards the foot. There may also be numbness, burning and tingling sensation and the pain could get worse by sitting, moving, coughing or sneezing. However, the patterns of pain depend on which nerve root is compressed. Sciatica may be caused due to lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, lumbar stenosis and spondylolisthesis, but the most common cause of sciatica pain is a herniated spinal disk, the spinal disk is a soft elastic cushion that rests in between the vertebrae of spine – with aging, the disks become rigid and may crack. The gel at center of the disk may squeeze out and become a herniation outside the normal boundaries of the disk. It should be noted that sciatica is not a disease or syndrome in fact it is the symptom of a forthcoming disease.
In majority of the cases, the condition disappears itself after few weeks of rest and conservative treatment, pain relief drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants, stretching and physical therapy by a qualified physiotherapist or as prescribed.
However, a surgery may be required if the pain doesn’t go away after three month or more after of conservative treatment. The herniated disc may be removed in a procedure called ‘Discectomy’ or in another procedure called ‘Laminotomy’, part of the bone of the vertebrae is cut to make room for the nerve.
Apart from all these ‘invasive’ and drug dependent treatments, chiropractic is also used to treat the sciatic pain – it is free of drugs and surgeries. Chiropractic therapy came out of the belief that a barred spinal movement ultimately drags our body towards pain, more specifically, a sciatic pain.
The type of chiropractic therapy to be given depends on the intensity and cause of your sciatic pain and these might include an ice/cold therapy, that diminished the inflammation caused by the herniation and ultimately relieves the sciatic pain; ultrasound, it allows the heat to infiltrate towards the tissues and muscles and helps in blood circulation; TENS, it is a small electrical device packed inside a box that delivers varying level of current to cure the pain and muscle spasms; and spinal adjustments, it is quite effective is usually pain-free as it uses physical methods of to adjust the swollen nerves and disks in your spine.