Sciatica Treatment

Sciatica Treatment

Sciatica: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Correct diagnosis and treatment of sciatica is key to achieving fast recovery and abatement of pain and symptoms. While many common courses of treatment help to temporarily relieve symptoms, long term satisfaction of sciatica sufferers indicate a very wide effective of care options. Good news- long term improvements for sciatica is possible with the best treatment options. In this article, we investigate not only traditional options but also how chiropractic can relieve sciatica symptoms.

Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by pain, tingling, or numbness in the leg. It occurs when the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body, becomes compressed or irritated. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down to the legs, and any pressure on it can cause pain and discomfort.

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or bulging disc in the spine. Other causes include spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal, or a bone spur on the spine. In some cases, sciatica may also be caused by a specific muscle spasm or injury.

Symptoms of sciatica include sharp, shooting pain that travels down the leg, numbness or tingling in the leg or foot, and weakness in the leg muscles. The pain may be from mild to severe, and it can be aggravated by sitting or standing for long periods of time.

Traditional treatment for sciatica depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms. It may include medication to manage pain, physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility, and in some cases, surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good posture, may also help prevent sciatica from developing.


Sciatica is a condition that affects many people worldwide. Studies estimate that 80% of people worldwide will experience low back pain at some time during their lifetime. It is a common condition that is often associated with pain, tingling, and numbness in the legs. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, and it runs from the lower back down to the legs. Any pressure on this nerve can cause pain and discomfort. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for sciatica.

Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. There are several conditions that can cause this compression, including:

Abnormal Spinal Alignment: As the spine shifts from its normal position, the nerve roots exiting from each vertebral level can be compressed, resulting in pain. For example, the amount of pressure needed to irritate a nerve root is equivalent to the weight of a dime. The nerves also need adequate space when exiting the spinal cord to travel out through the vertebra above and below.  For this reason, if that space (called a foramina) become smaller, the nerve root can become irritated from the increased pressure.

Herniated or Bulging Discs: A herniated or bulging disc is a condition where the soft tissue inside the disc pushes out of its normal position. This can cause pressure on the nerve, leading to pain and discomfort.

Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal becomes narrow, putting pressure on the nerve. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs.

Bone Spurs: Bone spurs are bony growths that can develop on the spine. These can cause pressure on the nerve, leading to pain and discomfort.

Muscle Spasms: Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions of the muscles. These can put pressure on the nerve, leading to pain and discomfort.

Injury: Injury to the lower back or legs can also cause sciatica. This can include injuries from accidents or sports which exceed the physical limits of the spine and surrounding soft tissue structures.

Sciatica Treatment Herniated Disc

Risk Factors for Sciatica

Several factors can increase the risk of developing sciatica, including:

Age: Sciatica is more common in older adults, as the discs in the spine may start to break down over time.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the spine, increasing the risk of sciatica.

Occupation: Jobs that require prolonged sitting or standing can increase the risk of sciatica.

Diabetes: Diabetes can damage nerves, increasing the risk of sciatica.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to pain and discomfort.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The most common symptom of sciatica is pain that starts in the lower back and radiates down the leg. This pain can be sharp or dull, and it may feel like an electric shock. The pain may also be accompanied by tingling, numbness, or weakness in the leg or foot.

Other symptoms of sciatica may include:

Pain that is worsened by sitting, standing, or walking for long periods of time.

Difficulty standing up or walking due to pain and discomfort.

Pain that is worse at night.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult a chiropractor to receive an accurate diagnosis of your health problem.

Most Importantly: Loss of bladder or bowel control can occur in severe cases of nerve compression. This can be a serious condition that should be evaluated by emergency healthcare providers to prevent further injury.

Treatment Options for Sciatica

Treatment for sciatica depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms. Mild to moderate cases of sciatica may be managed with conservative chiropractic care, while more severe cases may require surgery.  Therefore, we work alongside a network of skilled referral specialists in more severe cases.

Traditional treatments for sciatica may include:

Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen, can help temporarily block pain and reduce inflammation.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help improve strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve. This may help reduce pressure on the nerve, leading to pain relief. It is important to note that this is most effective when a patient’s spinal alignment is well enough to withstand physical therapy.  In our experience physical therapy, for some, can be too painful with certain cases of sciatica requiring precision chiropractic adjustments. Physical therapy may not be well tolerated for some significant cases of sciatica.

Hot and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help temporarily relieve symptoms of sciatica.

Conservative Treatment Options

Chiropractors are healthcare professionals who specialize in treating musculoskeletal conditions, including sciatica. They use non-invasive, drug-free techniques to relieve pain and improve mobility.

Chiropractic care for sciatica typically involves a combination of spinal manipulation, soft tissue therapy, and rehabilitative exercises. The goal of chiropractic care is to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve, reduce inflammation, and improve the function of the spine.

Here are some ways that a chiropractor can help with sciatica:

1. Spinal Adjustments

Spinal adjustments, also known as spinal manipulation, is a technique used by our chiropractors to realign the spine and improve its function. This can be done by hand or with an assisted instrument based on your individual care needs. The chiropractor uses gentle, controlled force to manipulate the spine, which can help alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve. Spinal manipulation may also commonly helps to improve joint mobility and reduce inflammation.

Learn exactly how chiropractic works HERE.

2. Spinal Decompression therapy

Spinal decompression is an advanced computer-assisted technology that helps treat the symptoms of low back and neck pain from herniated, bulging, degenerated and slipped discs. This therapy has been utilized by tens of thousands of patients since getting FDA clearance over ten years ago. Patients can use decompression as an alternative to surgery for patients suffering from herniated, bulging, degenerated, and slipped discs. Even when physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, pain medication and injections have failed, most patients can still receive significant pain relief in 4 to 6 weeks of spinal decompression.

Read more about Spinal Decompression Therapy HERE.

3. Soft Tissue Therapy

Soft tissue therapy involves home stretching exercises for the muscles and other soft tissues surrounding the sciatic nerve. This can help reduce tension and improve circulation, which can alleviate pain and discomfort. Soft tissue therapy may also help reduce inflammation and promote healing.

4. Rehabilitative Exercises

Rehabilitative exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles and improve the function of the spine. Because of this benefit, Chiropractors may recommend specific exercises to help improve posture, increase flexibility, and reduce the risk of future sciatic episodes. These exercises may include stretches, core strengthening exercises, and low-impact aerobic exercise.

5. Lifestyle Advice

Our chiropractors may also provide lifestyle advice to help manage sciatica. This may include recommendations for posture, ergonomics, and nutrition. We may also suggest modifications to daily activities to help reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve, such as taking breaks from sitting or standing for long periods of time.

Therefore, chiropractic care can be an effective treatment option for sciatica. Chiropractors use a combination of spinal adjustments, soft tissue therapy, rehabilitative exercises, and lifestyle advice to help alleviate pain and improve function. If you are experiencing sciatica, consider speaking with a chiropractor to learn more about your treatment options.

If you are experiencing sciatica, we are your trusted Flagler county chiropractors. Call or text us to learn more about your treatment options.