Sciatica Treatment: A Spokane Valley WA Chiropractor's Perspective
Being a chiropractor in Spokane Valley WA we frequently have people come into our office experiencing sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body that starts in the lower back and has 5 different branches that come off as it travels down the back of each leg into the feet and toes. These nerves control many of the functions in the thighs, legs, and feet. The sciatic nerve can get compressed or irritated causing pain, numbness or tingling down one or sometimes both legs. Sciatic pain can be extremely debilitating making simple everyday activities difficult to perform. Most cases of sciatica result from a bulged or herniated spinal disc in the lower back, but it may also be caused by degenerative spinal discs, misalignments of the vertebrae in the lower back called subluxations, or tightness in the piriformis muscle. While sciatica can affect anyone, some people are more at risk such as people who sit for long periods of time each day (ex. Desk, Driving), those who are overweight, taller, smokers, or perform a job that is physically strenuous with much lifting, bending, or twisting. Even though sciatic pain has become very common, it is not normal and ultimately a sign your body is not functioning properly.
Often people in Spokane Valley WA who are experiencing sciatica will turn to over-the-counter or prescription pain medications to treat the pain. This approach may temporarily alleviate the pain, but long-term medications do not address the cause of the pain they only mask the symptoms and can cause other severe health problems even addiction. Even taking over-the-counter NSAIDS like ibuprofen, which people generally believe to be safe, for extended periods of time can greatly increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, kidney problems, stroke, and even heart attacks.
At River City Chiropractic our goal is to not simply mask symptoms but to address the root cause of the sciatic pain. Sometimes sciatic pain can be related to a specific acute trauma such as a sports injury, car accident, lifting improperly, or a fall, but most often we find with our patients in Spokane Valley WA that it is the smaller, repetitive activities done poorly over time that cause the most damage. Some common activities that can lead to sciatica are prolonged sitting, bending or sleeping improperly, sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, or repetitive lifting. It is very important to identify what you may be doing that is resulting in the sciatic pain and or seek help quickly because spinal problems generally get worse with time and chronic sciatic pain can become more challenging to resolve and require more time.
How We Treat Sciatica In Spokane Valley WA
Comprehensive Consultation, Exam, and X-Rays
Treating sciatic pain first begins with identifying the root cause which is why every new patient encounter at our Spokane Valley WA chiropractic office involves a comprehensive history to find out what has happened in the past and present that may be causing the sciatic pain.
The next step would be a thorough exam consisting of postural and range of motion analysis, orthopedic and neurological testing, bilateral weight testing, spinal motion palpation, and if necessary spinal x-rays to determine the exact location, extent of the damage, and formulate a custom care plan to help correct the cause of the sciatica.
Corrective Chiropractic Care In Spokane Valley WA
Our chiropractic office in Spokane Valley WA is unique in that we specialize in spinal corrective care. Only a small percentage of chiropractors have this approach and training. Commonly sciatica can be caused by spinal or pelvic subluxations – where a vertebra or bone is out of the proper alignment and or is not moving correctly, or the loss of the normal spinal curvature in the lower back. When people lose the natural curvatures in the spine or have subluxations that damages the spinal nerves which can lead to lower back or hip pain, sciatica, numbness or tingling down the leg or foot, or even knee pain.
Our approach to help people suffering from sciatica in Spokane Valley WA goes beyond pain relief, but also focuses on correcting their spine and posture so the issues don’t continue to come back through spinal adjustments and a comprehensive spinal exercise program performed in office as well as at home. We also typically perform follow up xrays so not only do people have relief from the pain, but they can see their subluxations are reducing and posture improving over time.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Program
At River City Chiropractic we custom make a home exercise program and provide spinal homecare equipment that helps our patients get better and long-lasting results. Following a thorough exam/xray and report of findings our doctor at River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA will create a home exercise plan that is specific to your posture and x-ray findings. With this program comes some special spinal rehab equipment to help our patients in Spokane Valley WA get better results, faster. We also have access to a database of 1000’s of stretches/exercises with videos that can be prescribed to our patients to help them with core stability or address any other muscle weakness or tightness concerns.
Spinal Decompression Spokane Valley WA
Some of the more common causes of lower back pain and sciatica are degenerating or bulged spinal discs. The spinal discs are the gel-like cushion between the vertebrae that enable the spine to bend and twist. However, due to loss of normal spinal curvature or improper movement of the spine, the spinal discs can protrude or begin to breakdown which causes compression on the spinal cord and or nerves in the lower back often resulting in pain, sciatica, numbness/tingling, or muscle weakness in the legs or feet.
Back surgery to treat disc problems can be very expensive and risky in the sense of potential complications as well as outcomes. A much safer and effective alternative is spinal decompression, which works by gently stretching the spine relieving the pressure off the spinal discs and nerves. At River City Chiropractic in Spokane Valley WA we use the Back On Trac spinal decompression chair which not only decompresses the spine, but also combines lateral flexion which assists in hydrating the discs, restoring normal spinal motion as well as heat and vibration to relax any tense muscles for optimal results. The Back On Trac decompression chair has been a great addition to our Spokane Valley WA clinic helping our patients relieve lower back and sciatic pain naturally without the need for drugs or surgery.
Common Causes of Sciatica in Spokane Valley WA
Bulged or Herniated Lumbar Discs
The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or herniated lumbar disc. The spinal discs are the gel-like cushion between the vertebrae that act like a shock absorber and allow it to bend and twist. In a way the spinal discs are kind of like a jelly doughnut because it contains firmer fibrous material around the outside and a gel like substance in the middle.
Over time, the discs can wear down or dehydrate due to improper spinal motion or alignment. When this happens the outer fibrous material begins to tear, especially if you have an injury such as lifting incorrectly or an auto accident. If the outer fibrous layer tears enough the inner gel-like material can get pushed out creating a bulge. If that bulge puts pressure on a spinal nerve or the spinal cord you may experience low back pain, sciatica, pain/numbness/weakness into your legs.
With a herniated lumbar disc, the outside fibers can begin to tear, and the inner gel-like material starts to move towards the outside of the disc. If the fibers tear enough, the inner gel-like material can actually break through the exterior of the disc and compress the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Herniated discs tend to create even more sciatic leg pain, than low back pain, and the pain is generally more intense. If you have a herniated disc causing sciatica, it is imperative that you receive treatment as quickly as possible. This can be a debilitating condition that can drastically decrease the quality of your life. The longer the issue persists, the more difficult it is to treat. Many disc injuries end up ultimately requiring surgery to fix. If you can catch the problem early, it can be managed and addressed conservatively through therapies like chiropractic, exercise, and spinal decompression.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Another common cause of sciatica is degenerative disc disease, which is a progressive problem where the spinal discs begin to dehydrate and breakdown overtime resulting a smaller opening for the nerves to pass through leading to pain and other health problems. Often people think this is age related, but it is primarily caused by poor posture, being overweight, and a spine that is out of alignment and not moving correctly. The discs of the spine are similar to the wheels on your car. If your alignment is off with your car and you continue to drive it around the wheels wear down faster, if the alignment with your spine is off then your spinal discs wear down faster too. Disc degeneration generally cannot be reversed, but it can be slowed or stopped to reduce pain, and improve overall quality of life through chiropractic care and spinal decompression.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that refers to the narrowing of the canal where the spinal cord and or spinal nerves are located or exit the spine. Spinal stenosis is also a regular cause of sciatica because when the space around the spinal cord or nerves is narrowed due to degeneration, bulged or herniated discs, cysts, thickened ligaments, or tumors it causes compression or irritation on the nerves resulting in sciatica, low back pain, muscle weakness, or even loss of organ function.
A subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae of the spine that prevents normal spinal motion and can irritate or damage the spinal nerves in the lower back often causing symptoms such as sciatica. At River City Chiropractic, we locate subluxations of the spine that are causing sciatica and through chiropractic adjustments and spinal exercises help people correct their subluxations over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I see a medical doctor or a chiropractor about sciatica?
Seeing a healthcare provider about your sciatica is definitely a step in the right direction, but seeing a chiropractor would most likely be your best first point of contact over a medical doctor and receiving medications or injections to cover up the pain, but not address the root cause of the problem. If your sciatica can be treated in a more conservative and natural approach through spinal adjustments, massage or soft tissue work, exercise, decompression then a chiropractor will be able to help you with all or some of those treatments so you can get well.
What can I do to relieve my sciatic pain in Spokane Valley WA?
There are a number of things that can cause sciatic pain, such as bulged or herniated spinal disc, spinal misalignments, degenerative discs, or tight muscle, so ultimately what you do and the results from it will depend on the exact cause, which will best be determined from a healthcare professional who specializes in spinal issues. Stretching, massage, or soft tissue therapy can be very helpful for people suffering from sciatica. Most cases of sciatica are related to bulged or herniated spinal discs, so often doing various spine or core strengthening exercises can help especially if combined with chiropractic adjustments and or decompression therapy.
What causes sciatica flare ups?
Since majority of sciatica cases are related to either bulged or degenerative spinal discs in the lower back activities that stress or overexert the lower back can lead to sciatica such as lifting, twisting, bending, poor sleep positioning, prolonged sitting, or exercising.
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