If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Sciatica, you may feel anxious and unsure about your next steps, but we’re here to help you through it. In this blog post we’ll discuss what the next steps look like, treatment plans, and what to expect when it comes to managing your pain.
First, let’s review how Sciatica compares to other types of back pain. As your healthcare provider likely explained, Sciatica can be a broad term, but it refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. The largest and longest spinal nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body and the most distinctive sign of sciatica is pain that runs from your lower back into the back or side or your legs. It can range from a mild ache to sharp, severe pain. You can also get numbness, tingling and weakness in your leg or foot.
Your treatment plan will depend on the root cause of your pain, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis. At NJ Spine and Wellness, our chiropractic team has found the most common causes of sciatic nerve pain to be:
Other causes of sciatic symptoms can be linked to pregnancy, infections, scar tissue, ankylosing spondylitis, muscle strains, spinal tumors and fractures. To properly diagnose the cause of your sciatica, you may need to have imaging tests performed, such as an x-ray or a CT/CAT scan. Your doctor may order an MRI if there’s the possibility you have a herniated disc or spinal stenosis that’s causing your Sciatica. If you already had an MRI or other tests, NJ Spine and Wellness offers a free review of scans for new patients, so we would be happy to provide you with a second opinion.
When it comes to treatment for Sciatica, each individual case is different and the cause and severity of your pain will be a major factor in developing a course of action. Once you’ve been diagnosed with sciatica, your doctor can refer you to a chiropractor. At NJ Spine and Wellness, our approach is to help you get better without the use of prescription pain medications or surgery. Some patients may be able to get better within a few weeks, but again, it will depend on the cause and severity of your Sciatica.
When judging how severe your sciatica pain is, we often ask about your lifestyle and how the pain is impacting your day-to-day activities. This information will help us put together the best treatment plan for you. The NJ Spine and Wellness team’s procedures are more conservative as we want you to be able to avoid surgery if possible. Once we have all of the information needed, we will put together a customized treatment plan to help you recover from your sciatic nerve pain. Here are a few of the treatment options you may be presented with based on the severity of your pain:
If your Sciatica is less severe, your doctor may suggest taking over-the-counter pain relievers as a short-term solution for pain relief. He or she might also recommend putting cold packs on your lower back for a couple of days and then switching to hot packs for a few days after that. While your first instinct might be to rest and take it easy when you have been diagnosed with Sciatica, it’s more important to keep moving as sitting still will cause the nerve to continue to be irritated in that spot. Moving around is a great way to reduce the inflammation. Stretching can also help to provide pain relief—your chiropractic and physical therapy team can show you different types of stretches and exercises to perform at home. They will also monitor your progress and see if any additional action needs to be taken.
In addition to self-care, you may need treatments for your Sciatica. Some of the more common ones we perform include x-ray guided injection therapy, spinal cord stimulation, nerve blocks, and platelet rich plasma injections (PRP). Our chiropractic team treats and manages sciatic symptoms using spinal adjustments and manual manipulation. These therapies improve alignment of the spinal column, which helps relieve the underlying condition responsible for pain. Spinal manipulation has proven to be just as effective as surgery according to a study from the National University of Health Sciences. To optimize your recovery, it may be beneficial to receive alternative treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture.
As mentioned, we want you to be able to avoid stronger prescription medications and surgery for your Sciatica pain at all costs. If you have chronic Sciatica, you could get a prescription for a muscle relaxant to help ease spasms. Keep in mind that medication doesn’t cure the root cause of your Sciatica. While you may experience relief, physical therapy can be a better way to address the cause of your sciatic nerve pain. Most patients do respond well to non-surgical treatments, but there could be situations where the patient decides surgery is the best option. If you are considering it, we recommend getting a second opinion to make sure you have explored all of your options first.
If you recently got a Sciatica diagnosis, we understand how overwhelming and debilitating the pain can be. Finding the right healthcare team who can assist with your pain relief and give you a customized treatment plan is crucial. If you have confirmed your pain is due to Sciatica or you think you may have it, we encourage you to reach out to the NJ Spine and Wellness team today. We are here to help you get better faster so you can get back to doing the things you love. You can call us at 877-333-6579 to make an appointment with our chiropractic team today.
Make sure to check out our blog post on ways you can prevent Sciatica so that your pain does not return in the future.