We’ve all heard the term “sciatica.” Anyone who’s had it knows it is one of the most painful conditions that can be experienced. This article will describe sciatica, it’s cause, and a safe, gentle form of treatment that allows the avoidance of back surgery.
Strictly speaking, sciatica involves the pinching of the sciatic nerve. Five smaller nerves exit the lower spine and merge together to form the sciatic nerve. It is the largest nerve in the body (about the size of a finger) and also the longest nerve of the body, with fibers running from the lower back to the toes. Pain of the sciatic nerve is termed “sciatica.”
Sciatica, many times, is caused by a problem with a lower back intervertebral disc. These discs can bulge, herniate, rupture or protrude backward and come in contact with smaller nerves or the sciatic nerve itself. The symptoms of sciatica include lower back pain, pain in the buttocks, and pain down the side or back of the thigh, calf and foot. Numbness and tingling can also occur in the lower extremity.
Diagnosis of sciatica begins with a doctor taking history and performing a physical exam. Typically x-rays and possibly MRI imaging is obtained. Treatment can take many routes but seeing a chiropractor for care is a non-surgical, drug-free approach that many will follow.
Chiropractors address sciatica by looking for the cause of the problem. As noted earlier, discs of the spine are involved. They typically become compressed and put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Therefore, a common form of treatment utilized by chiropractors is traction to decompress the intravertebral discs. Other conservative treatment modalities may involve the use of cold packs to decrease inflammation, electrical muscle stimulation to relax muscles in spasm, and gentle chiropractic manipulations to realign malpositions of the spine and pelvis.
Chiropractors can also apply deep pressure, trigger point therapy, to muscles in the hip area and along the lower spine.
Lifestyle recommendations and home exercises can be an important part of healing. Since a disc problem causing sciatica is usually worse in the morning it is important that patients begin their day slowly with a very gentle warm-up routine. Those suffering from sciatica find that allowing their back to warm-up makes the rest of the day go a lot easier.
Chiropractic care for sciatica generally takes several weeks to several months in duration. Since the cause of the problem originates in the lower back, any discomfort that travels down the leg is called radiating pain. During the course of healing most patients will start to see a decrease of their leg pain. This is a positive sign, and it is usually just a matter of time and treatment before the pain is fully eliminated.
The good news is that for over 125 years chiropractors have been helping patients heal from sciatica. Check with your chiropractor first before electing for surgery. Safe, gentle chiropractic care for sciatic nerve pain relief is, for many, the best approach.
While annoying and an energy drain, tension headaches are not life-threatening, nor do they have a significant deleterious impact on one’s daily life. I recall a patient I treated in my chiropractic practice who experienced a couple tension headaches a week. He initially saught care for lower back pain. When he casually mentioned he had tension headaches I checked him and administered treatment. He was pleasantly surprised when his headaches were virtually eliminated. He noted that while he didn’t alter his daily routine when he had a headache, it was “much easier to live without headaches.”
This article will discuss a specific form of headache called cervicogenic headaches (CGH). It will explore the cause of this condition, reveal research that can bring safe, nonpharmaceutical headache pain relief and a variety of treatment options available to those suffering from this common malady.
Headaches that originate in the neck are called by a variety of names. They may be called tension headaches, stress headaches or cervicogenic headaches. They typically start in the base of the skull or the upper most part of the neck. They are usually bilateral, which means they are on both sides of the head. In the most painful phase, they may radiate into the temples and the forehead.
They do not cause a person to be nauseous or incapacitated as with a migraine. They can however sap one’s energy, cause a lack of focus and concentration, and reduce a persons productivity.
Research reveals that up to 4% of the general population and up to one-in-six chronic headache
sufferers may be affected by CGH. There are many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of chiropractic care for CGH, often involving a multi modal approach.
The vertebrae of the neck are also known as the cervical spine. When the vertebrae of the upper neck become misaligned or move improperly, they irritate nerves which travel into the head and trigger tension headaches. Since the headaches originate in the cervical spine, they are called cervicogenic headaches.
Chiropractors are professionals trained to diagnose and treat physical, mechanical alignment problems of spine pain. Chiropractors are the preeminent healthcare providers, when it comes to relieving CGH by utilizing chiropractic adjustments to realign and restore proper motion to the upper cervical vertebrae Most patients who go to chiropractors find that having a chiropractic adjustment is a safe, gentle, pleasant experience because it relieves tightness and spasm of the muscles by correcting the deeper spinal misalignment.
Doctors of chiropractic will also prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises to improve patient’s posture. Advice regarding daily activities such as work ergonomics, what type of pillow to use and types of physically stressful activities to avoid are imparted.
Anyone suffering from CGH may find it beneficial to consult with a doctor of chiropractic. There are usually a number of methods to bring about headache pain relief by reducing the number and intensity of ones headaches.
During the past 35 years of my chiropractic practice, I have been asked many times “Is my neck and back pain from tight muscles or could it be something else?” This article will discuss muscular pain, and other sources of discomfort and how relief of neck and back pain can be achieved.
Recently a patient in her early 30s came to my office with a complaint of chronic lower back pain. Her job required her to perform rigorous physical activities of installing flooring and carpeting. She told me that her discomfort was interfering with her ability to perform her work duties. She was afraid that she would have to discontinue that line of work and take another vocation because of her condition.
When I asked her what she had done previously to help with the problem, she told me she had seen orthopedic specialists who gave her steroid medication and muscle relaxers. She had also seen physical therapists who gave her stretching exercises. She noted these measures gave her some temporary relief but didn’t completely resolve her pain.
When I examined her, we found that she definitely had muscle spasms of her low back. However, her examination revealed a more significant deeper problem. Her muscles were tight and in spasm because they were trying to protect deeper spinal joint misalignments.
I told her that the body will always work to protect an injured area. In her case, her muscles were chronically tight and in spasm because they were doing what they are supposed to do to keep her condition from worsening.
Let’s take a moment to explain the difference between muscular pain and pain from other sources. If we over-use our muscles, they can be sore and go into some degree of spasm; it might be mild, or it could be severe. Typically, this muscle discomfort eases over the course of several days as the body heals itself. This is a completely normal type of healing.
However, if the source of the condition is from a deeper problem, such as a misalignment of spinal joints, superficial muscular pain will be continuous and become chronic. If this is the case treatment of the muscles will only result in temporary, minimal pain relief at best. To correct the problem, we must address the deeper source of pain. Pain relief can only occur if we solve what’s causing the problem.
In my patient’s case, treatment consisted of utilizing gentle, chiropractic spinal adjustments to correct the misalignments of the spinal bones of her back. After her first treatment she immediately felt the muscular spasm relax and loosen. She said: “Wow, I feel looser already!” It took some more treatments of safe, chiropractic adjustments to fully correct the deeper alignment problem so that she could perform her job free of pain.
Chiropractors are the preeminent healthcare providers, when it comes to relieving spinal neck pain and pain of the lower spine. Chiropractors are the only professionals trained to diagnose and treat physical, mechanical alignment problems of spine pain. Most patients who go to chiropractors find that having a chiropractic adjustment is a safe, pleasant experience because it relieves tightness and spasm of the muscles by correcting the deeper spinal misalignment. The number of treatments and visits a patient will required to attain relief of their neck and back spinal pain will depend on how long they’ve had the condition and its severity.
Remember, sore muscles should normally heal after a few days of rest. If, however, chronic muscular tightness, stiffness or spasm persists, it is most likely due to a deeper spinal misalignment problem. In this case, it is prudent to seek gentle, safe chiropractic care for muscle pain relief.
I had terrible shoulder and neck pain and constant headaches. I also had frequent flair-ups of sciatica.
WHAT STEPS HAD YOU PREVIOUSLY TAKEN TO GET HELP?
I mostly just tried to stretch and get massages when I could. I also took over the counter pain relievers.
HOW WERE YOU REFERRED TO CHIROPRACTIC?
I had been told for over a decade to seek Chiropractic care, but never did until my dear friend recommended Dr. Schofield.
IN YOUR WORDS, WHAT DID THE CHIROPRACTOR DO?
First and foremost, Dr. Schofield made me feel comfortable. He helped educate me about this type of care which empowered me to receive and follow through with treatment. The adjustments and electrical stimulation gave me instant relief and the stretches/exercises he taught me are now part of my daily health routine.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES AND INTERESTS?
I am a musician (singer and pianist). I sing with the Pittsburgh Opera and Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. I also love traveling and hiking.
HOW HAS CHIROPRACTIC HELPED YOUR HOBBIES AND INTERESTS?
I am much more aligned and comfortable in my body. This has improved my singing and I have been able to help my voice students too! I can play the piano for longer periods of time without pain!
HOW HAS CHIROPRACTIC HELPED OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE?
Without constant headaches, I am much more pleasant to be around! Also- now that my teaching is all virtual (2020), I have tools to help reduce inflammation when neck, shoulder, and sciatic tension builds.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO OTHERS?
You deserve to take care of yourself! I made excuses for years- but now I have never felt better. I was also nervous about Chiropractic care but Dr. Schofield put me at ease! Go for it- you are worth it!