Your sciatic nerve is amazing. It’s the longest nerve in your body, running from your lower back all the way to your feet, splitting and branching off along the way to provide sensation to most of your lower body. It provides nerve sensations to your hips, butt, thighs, lower legs, and feet. What’s not so amazing is when your sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated and causes you pain.
Sciatic pain will affect about 40% of adults over the course of their lives. This pain can be misunderstood and misdiagnosed because of its wide variety of presentations. Sciatic pain may appear anywhere along the nerve pathway; it may come and go, can be debilitating, and may feel better with certain stretches or postures.
The underlying cause of most sciatic pain is compression. The nerve can become pinched by a tight muscle, a subluxed joint, herniated or bulging disc, stenosis (narrowing of the bony openings through which spinal nerves pass), arthritis, or degeneration of the discs or bones in your spine. Sciatic pain originating from your lower back is called sciatica.
Compression and pain along your sciatic nerve can also be caused by a tight piriformis muscle, called piriformis syndrome. Your piriformis muscle is a wide band that runs deep in your butt, from your sacrum (the very bottom of your spine) to your hip. When your piriformis becomes tight, it can compress the sciatic nerve against your pelvic bone causing sciatica-like symptoms. Piriformis syndrome can be caused by sitting for long periods, excessive running, or trauma to the muscle.
The symptoms of sciatica include pain that may feel electric or shooting, a deep ache, throbbing pain, and a general inability to get comfortable in any position. Sciatic pain tends to affect only one side and may be felt anywhere along the pathway of the nerve, including your lower back, glutes, thigh, calf, the sole of your foot, and your large and second toes. Your sciatic pain may also come with unwanted neurological symptoms, such as numbness, abnormal nerve sensations (e.g. tingling or crawling sensation), and muscle weakness anywhere along the trajectory of the nerve.
Treating Sciatic Pain at BodaHealth
At BodaHealth, our practitioners are trained and experienced in helping patients find relief from sciatic pain. We offer a number of treatment options, and will suggest those that are most effective for your type of pain and its underlying cause. When it comes to treating sciatica, some of our most effective treatments include:
– Shockwave therapy is a treatment in which pulsed sound waves are delivered to the treatment area to stimulate healing. A number of research studies have found shock wave therapy to be effective in treating a wide variety of pain conditions because it promotes circulation, regenerates damaged tissue, breaks down scar tissue, and stimulates cellular metabolism. Shockwave therapy is non-invasive, safe, and accelerates the healing process. Patients report feeling better with reduced pain and increased mobility, often after their first treatment.
– Acupuncture is well-known for its ability to effectively treat pain, especially pain related to your lower back, which is often the origination point of sciatic pain. It’s also been documented that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for sciatic pain itself. Scientists have found that acupuncture works to relieve pain through a number of mechanisms in your body. It upregulates your body’s opioid-like pain-relieving system, blocks the transmission of pain signals to your brain, decreases inflammation in the treated area, and increases circulation to help promote healing. At BodaHealth, we have a number of highly-skilled and experienced acupuncture practitioners who are able to work with you to relieve your sciatic pain. They will begin by taking a thorough history of your health and current symptoms and then develop a treatment plan for your specific condition and health needs.
– Osteopathy is a hands-on therapy that targets your joints, muscles, and spine. It can be a great option for patients who are struggling with sciatic pain, because the treatments are geared toward improving biomechanical issues and promoting circulation to support healing, while looking at your body as a whole. The manipulative techniques used by our osteopathic practitioner include gentle pressure, assisted stretching, and controlled resistance.
– Clinical Pilates involves one-on-one sessions that incorporate exercise and movements to strengthen your core muscles, which are those closest to your spine and the deep abdominal muscles. Throughout each session, your practitioner will focus on correct spinal and pelvic alignment while working to elongate and strengthen your muscles and improve joint mobility. One of the goals of clinical Pilates is to help retrain your body to move in safer and more efficient ways, which is an invaluable part of injury rehabilitation. Clinical Pilates is safe and effective, and is used in many physical therapy facilities.
– Massage Therapy can be an invaluable tool in treating sciatic pain. A treatment session can be designed to target the source of your sciatica, whether it’s your lower back, piriformis muscle, or another condition. Therapeutic massage helps to loosen muscles around your spine and lower back that may have become tight due to structural changes. Massage therapy also works to increase circulation, which supports the overall healing process. In addition, therapeutic massage is incredibly relaxing, which can provide relief from the emotional stress and frustration of dealing with any kind of painful condition. At BodaHealth, we view massage therapy as a valuable and effective component to our therapeutic offerings.
Other therapies that may be incorporated into your treatment strategy include:
- Chinese medicine techniques, such as Gua Sha, Tui Na, therapeutic heat, cupping, dietary therapy, and herbal medicine.
- Injection therapies such as perineural injection therapy (PIT) and acupoint injection (AIT)s
- Fascial stretching
- Exercise physiology and kinesiology
- Naturopathic medicine
- Nutritional strategies
Sciatic pain can affect your life in a number of ways. It can interrupt your sleep, decrease your mobility, inhibit every day functioning, and cause emotional stress. At BodaHealth, our practitioners understand this and are committed to helping relieve your pain as quickly and safely as possible. If you’re struggling with sciatica and feel like you don’t know where to turn, let us help you. Contact us today to find out how!