Under Pressure: Dealing with Sciatica from Compressed Nerves
One of the most common afflictions that we encounter at the office is sciatica. Sciatica is a collection of symptoms, usually including acute pain that is linked to the stress of the lower spinal nerve roots. Most sciatica patients describe burning or shooting pain down the back of the upper leg, or a dull but persistent ache in the same place.
The pain is usually a result of the lowest lumbar nerve (the “L5,” we call it) being compressed by a nearby muscle or bone. Though it’s understandably alarming when this pain lasts several days or weeks, it’s usually very treatable.
The first prescription we always make for sciatica is rest and relaxation. This is all that’s needed to take pressure off the nerve 90% of the time. You don’t need full bed rest, but generally taking it easy for a couple of weeks will almost always resolve the pain without direct intervention. In certain cases, we also recommend pain medications.
At my office, Speizer Chiropractic, we also provide what’s known as the “Cox Technique” to provide relief in a more direct way. This is usually only needed for those with especially severe or prolonged sciatica. Using a series of assisted spine stretches, we decompress your disks and open up spaces around your lumbar nerves. This technique typically provides relief in just a few sessions.
Many actions and conditions increase your chances of sciatica, and they’re usually avoidable.
- Being overweight greatly increases the odds you’ll develop sciatica. The extra weight pushes down and compresses your muscles and nerves. Stay in shape and maintain a strong core to avoid this.
- Sleeping in a position that puts pressure on your spine or lumbar nerves is another of the most common causes. Sleep flat on your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your side with your knees drawn up toward your chest.
- Sitting with a wallet or other bulky objects in your pocket also contributes toward sciatica. Remove them to improve your posture and reduce lower spine stress.
- Though adding heat to the afflicted area might seem like a good remedy, I find that it only excites the nerve and increases overall pain. If you feel that you might be developing sciatica, use an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables instead.
Talk to Your Chiropractor
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when developing sciatica is to put off a visit to your chiropractor. We’ll run some tests to confirm the diagnoses, then recommend the best course of action for treatment. The longer you wait, the longer it will likely take to resolve the problem. To learn more about sciatica, follow this link: sciatica: causes and treatment.