Sciatica is a common problem that is reported in individuals of all age groups and is characterized by disabling, sharp and shooting pain that originates at or around the buttock region and travels to one or both limbs to cause limitation of movement due to excruciating (or at times dull pain), tingling sensation of limbs, numbness along the side of involved limbs and/or loss of sensation or impaired sensation in the hip region or limbs.
Sciatica is a symptom and not a problem by itself. It is seen in the setting of multiple pathologic processes that involves compression of the sciatic nerve during, before or after its passage from the sciatic foramen. Some common causes include lumbar disc herniation, disorders of intervertebral discs, herniation of nucleus pulposus (also called a slipped disc in common terms), long-standing chronic constipation and trauma to the hip region, piriformis syndrome or tumor, diabetes and other metabolic issues.
The aim of sciatica treatment is to focus on the primary cause of pain. In some cases, significant changes in body fluids may also cause sciatica like pregnancy. Although with organic and serious pathology a lot of treatment options are available, in pregnant women and lactating moms, only limited number of choices are available. Moreover, since most pregnant moms develop transient or temporary sciatica due to excessive plasma volume and weight gain issues that resolve spontaneously after delivery; chiropractic sciatica treatment is the best remedy to provide symptomatic relief without using any pharmacologic medications. Similarly, old and frail patients who are not likely candidates for surgical procedures can also benefit from alternative therapies like chiropractic and physical therapy for a symptom-free life.
The aim of chiropractic therapy is to stabilize the bones and muscles of the body in the best possible natural position to give the body appropriate time to heal naturally. All chiropractic exercises and therapies are aimed at limiting the movement across injured or damaged tissues and at the same time, improving the blood circulation in the region so the injury muscles can heal and inflammatory mediators can be washed away.
Some basic chiropractic treatment modalities commonly employed for sciatica treatment include traction exercises, manual therapy of soft tissues and, therapeutic stretching exercises.
Therapeutic traction exercises use special apparatus and devices that aim at improving the stability of the vertebral column and parts of the axial skeleton to separate the vertebral bodies for proper healing of muscles around inflamed vertebral bodies. They separate the vertebral bodies to make some room to avoid nerve compression. For best results, it is advised to perform these exercises under the supervision of your chiropractor.
All bones of the body are stabilized by soft tissues like ligaments, muscles, tendons and joint cavities and membranes that help in the stabilization, nourishment, and lubrication of joints and bones. Soft tissue manual therapy includes a variety of massage treatments depending upon the site of onset and cause of sciatica. Classic forms of treatment include instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (Graston Technique) and Active Release Technique (ART).
Stretching exercises help in the strengthening of bones and muscles (along with other soft tissues associated with bones and joints). Stretching exercises involving hip joint and limbs provide symptomatic relief and also promote circulation across damaged bone and ligaments.
Although chiropractic treatment is an ideal option for treating acute or chronic and mild or severe cases of sciatica, it is recommended to treat the primary issues first for best results of chiropractic therapy.