The sciatic nerve, the longest in the entire body, travels all the way down the spine and leg, then into the heel area. Sciatica is a condition that occurs when that sciatic nerve suffers from major damage. The cause of the damage may be compressed discs, spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, or even major weight gain.
Sciatica is most easily recognized by the shooting pain that it causes. Most people have shooting pain that travels down one leg, although some people do have sciatica in both legs. The pain often starts in the low back area, but it can begin in the buttocks or thighs as well. The pain may be only mild or it may be so severe that it makes a person nearly unable to walk. Some people who suffer from sciatica also have a feeling of numbness in the legs, or a "pins and needles" sensation in the feet.
The chiropractor will first look for the cause of the sciatica so that the issue can be resolved at its origin. Because sciatica usually starts in the spinal column, a chiropractic alignment is typically extremely helpful for pain relief in sciatica patients. During the alignment, the chiropractor will gently move the sciatic nerve into the correct place, which often involves freeing it from an area where it has become trapped. In addition to the spinal alignments, the chiropractic caregiver may also provide pain relief through physical therapy treatments such as myofascial release, stretching, traction, heat and cold treatments, and electrical muscle stimulation. For people who have particularly difficult cases of sciatica, non-surgical spinal decompression may be a potential treatment option. The chiropractor will customize a plan for each person based on their level of pain and specific sciatica symptoms.
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