by Dr. Charles Fulk
Practically everyone experiences back pain at some point, but chronic sciatic nerve pain is a specific issue that requires medical attention. Also referred to as sciatica, this condition can result in severe pain shooting up and down your body. If you’re struggling with ongoing back pain, here’s a closer look at some of the most common causes of this chronic nerve disorder and what you can do to prevent future problems.
Causes and Risk Factors
Sciatica is a medical term that is used to describe back pain that originates from the sciatic nerve bundle. Many different conditions and accidents can cause sciatica, and that is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to diagnose and treat. Most cases of sciatica are the result of a herniated disc, but it can also be caused by genetic disorders and tumors. In order to accurately diagnose sciatica, your doctor will need to schedule an MRI, EMG, CT scan, or X-ray.
Common Symptoms and Side Effects
Sciatica can cause a wide variety of side effects depending on the severity of the nerve damage and what has caused the damage. Most patients claim that they feel shooting pain running along their lower back, buttocks, and legs. This pain can be caused by practically any movement including lifting up heavy items or sneezing. Another common side effect is muscle weakness in one or both legs. In the initial stages of sciatica, some patients experience nothing more than a tingling sensation in their hands and feet.
Immediate Treatment Options
As soon as you notice any of these side effects, you should immediately begin alternating hot and cold packs on your back. That will increase blood flow to the area while reducing inflammation near the spine. Those who are healthy enough can also take over-the-counter painkillers while drinking plenty of water. Instead of sitting still, most doctors suggest low-impact movements such as walking or going for a swim.
If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, schedule an appointment with an experienced chiropractor to explore your long-term treatment options. Permanently treating this condition often requires a mixture of chiropractic adjustments, joint manipulation, physical therapy, and medication. If your condition is severe, treatment might include surgery to repair a herniated disc.
With proper treatment, your sciatica should go away within 12 months as long as you continue to take care of your back and schedule regular appointments for treatment. If the pain is debilitating or lasts for more than 12 months, then you should contact your doctor for a comprehensive exam.
Dr. Charles Fulk has been practicing chiropractic care in Olathe, KS since 1983 when he founded Fulk Chiropractic, one of Kansas City’s largest chiropractic clinics. He began his pre-chiropractic study at Highland Community College and later obtained his doctorate at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.