Sciatica is a common condition that causes chronic and debilitating pain. In many cases, it can make even the simplest of tasks seem impossible. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and best pain relief for sciatica can help you take back control of your life.

Luckily, there is no shortage of options for treating sciatica pain. Some methods work better than others, and the effectiveness of each treatment depends mostly on the cause and severity of your condition. Here’s what you need to know.

Common Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica is caused by a pinched nerve in the lower back. This is often the result of a herniated disk bulging into the spine and pressing on the sciatic nerve. Other causes include:

  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis (slipped disk)
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled spasms in the buttocks or lower back

Non-medical causes may include being overweight, frequently wearing high-heeled shoes, lack of exercise, or sleeping on the wrong type of mattress.

Sciatica Symptoms

When the sciatic nerve is compressed, it can result in inflammation, pain, and numbness. The pain is usually predominant on one side of the body and may affect the lower back, buttocks, back of the leg, and hip. It’s often debilitating and may shoot all the way down the leg and into the foot.

You may also experience tingling, burning, or weakness. In extreme cases, you may suffer from loss of bladder or bowel control, numbness in the upper thighs, or progressive weakness in the legs and feet. If this happens, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Chiropractic Care May Offer the Best Pain Relief for Sciatica

A study found that 60 percent of sciatica patients who failed to find relief from other treatment methods benefitted from chiropractic care. Chiropractic spinal manipulation may be the best pain relief for sciatica due to the many benefits it creates. These include:

  • Restored mobility to the affected area
  • Positive nervous system response
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Promoting of the body’s natural healing mechanisms

If you haven’t yet tried chiropractic care to treat your sciatica pain, it’s worth checking out. Make sure the chiropractor you choose has a good reputation and experience in providing the best pain relief for sciatica.

Other Sciatica Pain Relief Methods

If chiropractic care doesn’t bring the relief you expect, there are many other treatment methods you can try. Experiment with your options until you find one that works for you.

Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture, particularly treatment with heated needles, can bring sciatica pain relief. Some patients report experiencing effects after a single treatment. It’s more likely, however, that you’ll need 12 or more sessions before you see significant improvement.

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point massage is different from the relaxing spa treatment you may be used to. Instead, it involves applying pressure to the inflamed and irritated trigger points located in the piriformis muscle, glutes, and lower back.

Treatments are typically performed 7 to 10 days apart. If relief doesn’t come after four visits, it’s time to seek another treatment option.

Consistent Yoga Practice

Consistently practicing gentle yoga can help relieve pain and lessen disability. It works by improving flexibility and strengthening your muscles. When you have good posture and your body is in balance, you’re also less likely to move in ways that aggregate your sciatic nerve.

Herbal Treatments

Devil’s Claw is an herbal supplement that can relieve sciatic pain and inflammation. It’s safe for most people, but should be avoided by anyone with a peptic ulcer and those using blood-thinners.

The typical dose is 1,500 to 2,000 mg., twice a day. When shopping for Devil’s Claw, look for a standardized dosage of 50 mg of the active ingredient, harpagoside.

Steroid Injections

A steroid injection, guided by the use of X-ray technology, may offer relief to those who have tried other treatments without success. It works by lowering inflammation in the affected nerve branch.

There are a few serious side effects, including decreased immunity, stomach ulcers, and loss of bone density. For this reason, it’s recommended that you seek steroid injection treatment no more than three times a year.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

When you’re suffering from sciatic pain, you definitely don’t feel like getting up and moving around. However, that’s exactly what you should do. Sitting or lying down for long periods of time exacerbates the problem while exercise increases blood flow and helps reduce inflammation.

Short walks and low-impact exercises like water aerobics or swimming should help relieve your pain. If that’s not an option, consider physical therapy. Your therapist can prescribe exercises and stretches to strengthen your core, improve flexibility, and help stabilize your spine.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is the last thing most people want to think about, but it’s sometimes necessary. Before acting on a recommendation for surgery, it’s always best to seek a second opinion. The Comprehensive Spine Institute in Clearwater, Florida offers no-cost MRI reviews and takes a comprehensive approach to spine care.

If a trip to Clearwater isn’t an option for you, there are some easy steps you can take to find excellent local doctors in your area. The professional you choose should be able to recommend the best pain relief for sciatica and determine if surgery really is your only option.

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