Chiropractic and sciatica seem to go hand in hand these days, as many patients come to clinics seeking similar issues. Since sciatica is an ailment of the back and chiropractic care seeks to better align your spine, it only seems natural that sciatic-type pain should be treated with chiropractic adjustments.
Sciatica is a term used to describe impingement of the sciatic nerve (which has five different roots in the spine of your lower back), that causes pain or other nerve-related symptoms that may radiate down part of or along the entire pathway of the nerve . The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back through your hips, down the back of your leg and into your calf muscle, ending in your foot. There is a left sciatic nerve as well as a right. Spinal disc herniation is a common cause of sciatica as is pregnancy, while other causes are more likely muscular-related.
One such muscular-related condition that may cause sciatica is what many call 'piriformis syndrome'. This is a condition of the piriformis muscle, which runs from your lower spine to your femur (thigh bone), and helps with hip rotation. Because your sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle, it is believed that injury to this muscle from a fall, arthritis or difference in leg length may cause inflammation in the muscle that may the impinge the nerve and cause related symptoms.
Sciatic pain is usually described as a dull, aching sort of pain, and other complaints related to nerve compression may also include burning sensations, or numbness and tingling anywhere along the pathway of the nerve.
What happens during a chiropractic treatment for sciatica?
Regardless of how your sciatic pain has developed, the first step for your doctor of chiropractic is to properly diagnose you. This may require x-rays, CT scan or an MRI, or even a nerve conduction test. Once you have been properly diagnosed, chiropractic adjustments will likely focus on your lower back, hips, sacroiliac joints, and other parts of your lower body all in an effort to re-establish proper bio-mechanisms and relieve you of your symptoms.
The number of treatments you require will depend on the severity of your condition and your response to treatment. Many sciatic complaints disappear after only a few weeks of treatment, while others may take months to fully heal. It is highly recommended that you follow your chiropractor's professional advice during a course of treatment, as they can best guide you to a full, and effective recovery in an appropriate time frame.