Sciatica Treatment and Prognosis

When it comes to determining the best course of action or sciatica treatment options for any type of lower back pain or leg pain, the first place to start is with a good diagnosis. This means that your doctor actually knows where the source of your pain or discomfort is coming from. Many forms of low back pain mimic one another. For the most part, we can safely say that when you are experiencing pain in your lower back or legs that arise from a non-acute or traumatic situation, odds are it is a very treatable condition. As we’re learning, there are often many more factors that go into this condition than merely a physical event leading to the onset. Again, this is where the proper diagnosis of your back pain is important.

One extremely common form of pain that exists in the lower back and can refer pain to the back of the leg area is called sciatica. Sciatica is known to affect many millions of Americans each year. When it strikes, it can be an extremely debilitating type of pain that may take you to your knees. A typical scenario is one where the pain travels from your lower back area and radiates down the back of one leg, often in a fashion that you could draw a line down where it travels. It may radiate just into your buttock, to above the knee or even into the big toe. Sciatica is defined as occurring on one side at a time. If you are experiencing burning pain in both legs, then this is not sciatica, classically speaking.  At this point, you’re likely willing to try about anything for some sciatica pain relief.

In order to best understand your sciatica treatment options, it is a good idea to review some of the anatomy and causation elements. The sciatic nerve consists of the nerves from the 5th lumbar and 1st sacral nerve roots that exits the spinal canal and travel down to form the large sciatic nerve. This nerve passes beneath the muscles of the buttocks and down the leg into the foot. There are several branches that pass from the sciatic nerve as it travels down the leg into the foot. This is why when this nerve is irritated, compressed, twisted, distorted or otherwise interfered with; it may cause pain down the leg.

Depending on the nature of the sciatic nerve issue or problem, there are a variety of treatment options. In many traditional Western medical philosophies, it is believed that treatment consist of first conventional and then more radical means. For the sciatic nerve, this means anti-inflammatory medicines, ice, rest and physical therapy to address the muscular spasms. These may help people to feel better, but they often lack the means to address the core issues underlying the cause of the sciatic pain.

In an alternative or complementary philosophy toward sciatica treatment, we would address the reason underlying one’s problem in the first place, attempting to achieve a resolution of the problem rather than stopping at temporary sciatica relief. This type of treatment would likely include a chiropractic evaluation and assessment of spinal function and muscular balance. Since the spinal nerves can easily be pinched, compressed, twisted and distorted, the spinal cord and nervous system are great places to seek answers to the sciatic issue. There may also be additional or concomitant factors that lead to the compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle, but this we would call piriformis syndrome and treat that differently.

Because the sciatic nerve can also be compressed by disc pressure, one must not overlook this as a possible factor contributing to the pain. Herniated disc symptoms are actually synonymous with the sciatic pain that you may be experiencing. And, like the sciatic issue with its many nuances, herniated disc treatment is also dependent on a variety of factors, including one’s tolerance, age, physical activity level, personal choices regarding their care and treatment. Some of these procedures would include various forms of surgical intervention in an attempt to physically repair or remove the disc.

Most conservative forms of treatment for sciatica and lower back pain, like Network chiropractic, home exercises, stretching and lifestyle changes all result in favorable outcomes. The prognosis for someone with a fairly simple or uncomplicated sciatica issue is quite good. Surgical outcomes vary, but many of the ‘less radical’ forms can provide for pain relief at least for some period of time. Again, if no effort is made to address the underlying cause of the issue, then it may only end up showing up elsewhere in one’s spine or nervous system somewhere along its path. As you can tell, there are a variety of ways one might pursue their sciatica treatment. Consider Gilbert chiropractor, Dr. Michael J. Funicello to help you with yours. You’ll be glad you did.


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