Sciatica refers to an inflammation or pressure reaction of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks down each leg. Generally the sciatic nerve is put under pressure from a bulging or herniated disc, but a tight or spasming performs muscle can also cause a bout of sciatic pain.
There are some clear causes, symptoms, treatment options, and statistics that could help make you aware of potential risk facts and means of prevention for sciatica. At Denver Integrated Spine Center, we’re here to help.
How Common is Sciatica?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, as many as 40 percent of people will experience sciatica at some point in their life, and your chances of getting it increase as you get older.
One in four older Americans has dealt with sciatica in at least one instance, and those individuals are more prone to other health risks or a lower quality of life, according to Reuter Health.
Sciatica is caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve, which can result from issues like a soft tissue injury, sports injury, bone spurs, or a tumor or cyst on or near the nerve in rare cases. Other potential causes include spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the space inside the spinal canal), spondylolisthesis (slipped and misaligned vertebrae), or degeneration of the spine. There are some risk factors that could cause an potential increase in sciatica in certain individuals, such as:
- Age – Herniated disks and bone spurs, two of the most common reasons for sciatica, are age-related injuries. As you get older, your chances of experiencing sciatica is greater.
- Obesity – More weight can provide a greater strain on the spine, so those heavier individuals are more prone to sciatica than those in good shape.
- Occupation – If your job requires a lot of bending over, physical activity, or other strenuous activities that could put pressure on a trigger point, your chances of sciatica are increased.
- Prolonged Sitting – Those that sit for long periods of time are more prone to sciatica than active individuals, as sitting can put undue strain on the prine and buttocks area.
- Diabetes – Diabetes increases the risk of nerve damage, resulting in an increase for potential sciatica in those with this condition.
- Smokers – Smoking is believed to cause nerve damage and may increase your odds of developing chronic pain, which could lead to or result in sciatica.
In the Denver area, a very active and outdoor pocket of the country, risks can be higher for lower back strain, which could result in sciatica.
Sciatic pain generally starts in the low back and causes a pinching discomfort across the buttock. This pain can also extend down one leg or both legs. Sciatica is often present as weakness or numbness, tingling, or burning in the lower leg muscles. Sitting can cause muscle spasms, so many with sciatic discomfort prefer to stand or lie down. Sciatic pain can run the gamut from mild discomfort to excruciating pain.
Some common sciatica complications include permanent nerve damage, a loss of feeling in the legs, chronic muscle weakness, and other conditions. If left untreated, sciatica symptoms have a higher chance of becoming permanent.
If sciatica surgery is required, other complications similar to surgeries could be possible, like blood clots or heart attacks. If treated early, surgery is generally a last resort.
Your treatment specialist from Denver Integrated Spine Center can treat your Sciatica in a variety of ways. They may start with basic stretching exercises and manipulation in an effort to reduce the acute pain. Massage therapy or physical therapy can also be used as an alternative therapy to help reduce the muscle spasms and pain that accompany sciatic type of pains. Chiropractic care and chiropractic treatment as a whole can relieve symptoms of sciatica and prevent future injuries.
Other treatments include forms of spinal manipulations, like spinal decompression, take pressure off the bulging disc and thus the nerve, as well as flexion distraction treatment. Flexion distraction treatment is a gentle and generally smooth, comfortable method of spinal flexing that involves having you lay on your tummy.
While your legs are fully supported, your feet will be lowered a short distance while the chiropractor applies pressure in an upward direction. This both lowers the muscle tension in your low back and reduces the pressure on the bulging disc. Many sufferers of sciatic pain find flexion distraction therapy to be a very comfortable, calming therapy.
Long Term Sciatica Treatment Options
Once the extreme pain and pressure of the initial sciatic flare-up is addressed, it’s crucial that anyone suffering from this pain talk with the chiropractor or physical therapist about stabilization techniques and core stability. The bulging disc could have a tendency to recur if the core stabilizers aren’t properly engaged, this is why proper care is vital after a flare up. Regular stretching and strengthening of the muscles of the low back will also prevent future flare-ups.
Aside from receiving regular chiropractic adjustments for lingering symptoms, there are ways to prevent sciatica from returning. Those who exercise regularly and maintain good physical health have a higher prevention rate for sciatica than those with sedentary lifestyles.
Keeping good posture while sitting, especially for those that sit for prolonged periods of time, can help reduce strain on the spine and reduce your risk of sciatica or other issues.
If you lift weights or have a physically-demanding job, make sure you use your body in the correct way. Never lift with your back, and ask for help before trying to lift something overwhelming.
Sciatic nerve pain can cause a great deal of discomfort and really affect your normal daily activities. Working with the team at the Denver Integrated Spine Center will help to reduce your current symptoms and provide pain relief, but they will then work with you so this doesn’t become a recurrent issue moving forward.
Don’t live in pain any longer, book your appointment by contacting us at (303) 758-9000 today or visit our website!
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