First, everyone responds differently to pain. For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others, the pain might come and go intermittently, and not be so intense. Usually, sciatica only affects one side of the lower body, and the pain often radiates from the lower back into the deep buttocks all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Sometimes the person experiences calf or foot pain. It is quite variable. One or more of the following sensations may occur as a result of sciatica:
• Pain in the buttocks or leg that is worse when sitting
• Burning or tingling down the leg
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot , with the
• Leg pain being a little worse than the back pain.
While sciatica can be very painful, it is important to keep in mind that the main problem may be with the intervertebral discs. Most likely the discs are dry and weakened due to “wear and tear” injuries. Treatment goals should be to minimize pain, minimize the disc herniation, re-hydrate and re-nourish the discs and nerve roots, and to strengthen and rehabilitate for permanency and prevention of re-injury. This is where spinal decompression therapy can be very effective.
Symptoms that may constitute a medical emergency include progressive weakness in the leg or bladder/bowel or incontinence. As mentioned above, this may represent a rare condition called cauda equina syndrome. You should seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing these signs.
In general, patients with complicating factors should contact their doctor if sciatica occurs, including people who have been diagnosed with cancer; take steroid medication; abuse drugs; have unexplained, significant weight loss; or have HIV.
Chiropractic care combined with Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or COX-2 inhibitors), or oral steroids can be helpful in reducing the inflammation and pain associated with sciatica.
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