Even If you’ve never experienced sciatica yourself, you likely know someone who has. Generally defined as a type of pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or “pinched”, sciatic pain can range from mild to intense. Even though it can occur at any age, it’s most commonly associated with those between the ages of 35 and 55 years (for reasons we’ll discuss later!).
The sciatic nerve travels from the base of the spine, down through the back of each leg, and into the foot — making it the largest and longest nerve in the human body. Because this nerve has both motor and sensory functions, sciatic pain can radiate across several parts of your lower body, or it can remain focused in one specific area.
Even though sciatica is surprisingly common (affecting 10% to 40% of the population at some stage during their lifetime), it can be a frightening experience for many.
If you’re someone who is experiencing the discomfort of sciatica — it’s not all bad news. There are several treatment options available for sciatica, and luckily, our experts are here to talk you through everything you need to know!
Firstly, what are the main symptoms of sciatica?
Sciatica can present differently for each patient. This is because the location and severity of the pain will depend on which part of the nerve is affected.
In most cases, sciatica will only affect one side of the body at any given time. However, bilateral sciatica (which is extremely rare),can affect both sides at once.
For those who have been diagnosed with sciatica, the most common symptoms include:
- Shooting pain (anywhere along the sciatic nerve)
- Numbness or swelling in the leg
- Burning sensation (often accompanied by numbness)
- Issues with mobility
- Pins and needles in the feet or toes
- Muscle weakness
What common triggers of sciatica do our pain management providers in Maryland observe?
Sciatica can appear both suddenly or gradually, and at any age. However, the reason it’s most prevalent amongst the 35 to 55 age group is because disc herniation is one of the most common causes of trauma to the sciatic nerve.
A herniated or “slipped” disc can result from sudden movement/jerking (e.g. while lifting something), injury from a fall, natural wear and tear, or just age.
While many people believe that sciatica can only occur as a direct result of an injury or a herniated disc, this is not true. At our pain management clinic in Maryland, we’ve dealt with sciatica that has also been triggered by:
- Swelling, irritation, or pressure around the sciatic nerve
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Bone overgrowth (spur)
- Decreased range of motion
- Overly tight muscles or spasms
It can also occur as a complication of medical conditions such as:
- Degenerative and spinal conditions
- Tumors within the spine (a less common cause)
- And many more…
For some people who are diagnosed with sciatica, they’ll need to undergo further testing to establish the underlying cause of the pain. For those with chronic conditions that have already been investigated, sciatica is often viewed as a complication they’ll need to manage long-term.
What is the difference between acute sciatica and chronic sciatica?
Following on from the previous point, sciatica that lasts more than 3 months (or that goes away and comes back again) may be considered ‘chronic sciatica’. While in some instances, the pain can disappear on its own, it’s always advised to seek advice from an expert to uncover the root of the issue.
Due to the recurring nature of chronic sciatica, it can be more difficult to treat than acute (short-term) sciatica. However, treatment options for both types are available.
Note: Sciatic pain is something that should never be self-diagnosed. If you’re experiencing pain of any kind, seeking professional medical advice is recommended.
Can our chiropractors in Annapolis, MD help sciatica?
Now for the good part — can a chiropractor relieve sciatic pain? If you’re suffering with sciatica, you’ll be very glad to hear that yes, chiropractors can indeed help ease your discomfort. What’s even better is that here at Annapolis Pain Management, our chiropractors, physical therapists and medical team will always work together to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Our team starts by working to relieve the compression of nerves that might be triggering your sciatica through drug-free and non-surgical methods. If you’re a chronic sufferer, our team can also create a plan to help manage your pain long-term.
Even though treatment options won’t be the same for every patient, the most popular treatments at our Maryland clinic include:
- Spinal Decompression Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Chiropractic Adjustments
- Deep Tissue Laser Therapy
- Pain relief injections (that also serve to reduce swelling)
- Trigger Point Dry Needling
Once sciatica has been treated, can it reoccur?
Even after effective treatment, it’s always possible that sciatica will reoccur — either in the same location or elsewhere. This is why keeping in close contact with your pain management provider is essential. Even though we’ve mentioned that it’s possible for the pain associated with sciatica to disappear on its own, that doesn’t mean that it’s gone for good.
Sciatica is also easy to make worse without the correct advice and treatment. This is why it’s recommended to only seek advice from professionals if you experience sciatic pain and to make no attempt at home treatment. If you require temporary relief from your pain before seeking professional advice, hot or cold packs are a safe way to bring down potential swelling or improve oxygen flow to irritated tissue.
Especially if a chronic medical condition is triggering your sciatica, sciatic pain needs to be carefully managed, so be aware that professional advice is always your safest option.
How can Annapolis Pain Management, MD help?
At our pain management clinic in Maryland, we understand how much pain can impact your quality of life. This is why seeking pain management advice for sciatica as soon as possible is essential.
At our clinic, we make it a priority to figure out what works for you and offer advice and treatment that’s tailored to your specific needs. A lot of our patients suffer pain unnecessarily for years. This is why getting in touch with us is already a big step in the right direction!
Our team of chiropractors, physical therapists, and pain management specialists are here to offer their expertise on a wide range of conditions. So whatever pain you’re experiencing, reach out to see how we can help.