Recently I was able to help give sciatica pain relief to a nurse who came to my chiropractic office of 37 years. Natalie, a 30-year-old nurse had been experiencing sciatic nerve pain for over a year. It ultimately worsened to the point where she felt she must attempt to gain some pain relief. Fortunately, her aunt referred her to me, and I was able to utilize chiropractic care to give her relief of her very severe pain. This article will describe sciatic nerve pain and how a multi-faceted chiropractic care approach gave this patient pain relief.
Natalie had entered the nursing profession after graduating from college. She worked as a floor nurse in a hospital which entailed frequently lifting and moving disabled and semi-disabled patients. While Natalie loved her work and found it very fulfilling, it was also very physically difficult. Over the course of a number of years she had several times when she hurt her lower back. Usually, by working lighter duties for a week or so her back pain would lessen, and she would resume her regular, vigorous work activities.
Natalie’s case was similar to many I’ve seen in my three-plus decades of chiropractic practice. Many times, patients have multiple injuries to an area of the body. Left untreated, these injuries accumulate and progressively become a chronic problem. Continued physical activity aggravates the condition and soon the pain becomes excruciating.
When Natalie first came to me, she was having significant right lower back pain and a burning pain into her right buttock and down the outside of her thigh and calf. Her foot and toes felt like there was a constant tingling and numbness. Her sleep was affected because every time she tried to change positions in bed her back discomfort would awaken her. She said it was all she could do to get through a day of work due to her condition. Additionally, she was getting married in six months and she said she wanted to enjoy the experience of such a joyous occasion without having to deal with sciatic pain.
When I initially examined Natalie, I found that she had misaligned vertebrae in her lower back that was pinching her sciatic nerve. She also had a lower back lumbar intervertebral disc that was bulging created additional impingement upon the sciatic nerve. The muscles in her lower back were in significant spasm and a great deal of inflammation that had occurred.
The sciatic nerve is formed by the combining of several nerve roots exiting the spinal cord. The sciatic nerve then travels down the leg and into the foot and innervates the lower extremity. When the sciatic nerve is injured and creates pain, we call that sciatica or sciatic nerve pain.
Natalie’s treatment consisted of traction which was aimed at reducing her bulging lower back disc. Gentle, safe chiropractic spinal adjustments helped to realign her lower back vertebrae. Electrical muscle stimulation and pressure point therapy gave her relief of the intense muscle spasms she was experiencing. She learned how to use applications of cold packs on her own at home and at work to reduce swelling and inflammation. I also gave her stretching and strengthening exercises to do on her own.
Within two weeks her leg pain was gone and in another two weeks her lower back pain was completely alleviated. I told Natalie that her in office chiropractic care was completed but that she would have to give her back some additional time to heal. I recommended she continue the exercises she’d been given and to take a 30-to-60-minute walk three or four times a week. I’ve found walking is one of the best things a person can do to help a chronic back problem to heal.
I was very pleased that Natalie was able to return to working with her patience pain-free and I asked her to keep me posted as to how her wedding goes. She said she would!