Sciatica’s the name, “debilitating lower back pain
that extends down the hip and legs” is its game.
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And you’d probably like to get some relief
from the pain that has you recliner-bound.
Hear this! Sitting around is not only getting
old, it’s also making your symptoms worse. So, when painkillers and hot packs
can’t cut the pain, consider visiting a chiropractor.
A chiropractor? For sciatica?
Chiropractors are a great place to start when you have
sciatica-like shooting pain or associated symptoms such as leg or foot
tingling, numbness or weakness.
“Chiropractors are a portal of entry, meaning you don’t need a referral to see one,” says chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC. “We’re trained to work with musculoskeletal concerns, so we can help identify what’s the root cause of your symptoms.”
Chiropractic care is usually
covered under most insurance plans, whether private, Medicare or Medicaid. And
a visit to the chiropractor may save you a step. Chiropractors can quickly
identify whether your concern needs to be elevated to the next level and if you
need to pursue:
- Referrals: A referral to a physical or occupational therapist or
- Medications: Talking to your primary care physician about a
prescription for short-term use of muscle relaxant, steroid or
- Imaging scans: Getting an X-ray or MRI.
All hands on deck: Motion is lotion when it comes to chiropractic therapy
“People often tell me they don’t know how they hurt their
back,” says Dr. Bang. “That’s usually a blaring sign that muscle weakness or
tightness is to blame, which is typical given how much sitting we all do.”
Muscles are made up of thousands of small fibers, like a
rope created from several small strands of string. With both overuse and
underuse, the muscle fibers contract and also influence nearby fibers to
What happens next? A painful “knot” of muscles, known as a
trigger point, forms.
“Trigger points can ‘pinch’ the sciatic nerve, causing an
intense, radiating pain down the back and legs,” says Dr. Bang. “But trigger
points respond well to deep pressure that squeezes the muscle fibers and causes
them to relax.”
He adds, “We also know manual therapy like massage can
reduce the levels of inflammation-causing compounds near the trigger point.”
(Those pro-inflammatory compounds are known as cytokines.)
Big benefits, little risk to hands-on manual therapy
In addition to saving you time,
a visit to the chiropractor may also decrease your reliance on painkillers. A
study by the American College of Physicians listed these as the first line of
defense for lower back pain:
- Applying heat.
“Anti-inflammatory pain relievers and muscle relaxants are a
second course for treating pain, with narcotics and injections taking the back
seat,” says Dr. Bang. “There are very few side effects to chiropractic
treatment. Medications, on the flip side, aren’t free of side effects,
especially after prolonged use.”
Keep sciatic pain away with strengthening and stretching exercises
Dr. Bang says most chiropractors focus on as few treatments
as possible to bring relief to patients. Sciatica-like pain can usually be
relieved within four visits or less. During treatment sessions, chiropractors
teach basic exercises that you can do at home to stop the symptoms from
recommend increased exercise or a sitting/standing desk,” says Dr. Bang. “Also,
I love a foam roller for sciatic pain. It’s a miracle worker. It’s inexpensive
and lasts forever — unless the dog gets hold of it.”