Sciatica Treatment

Functional Medicine for Sciatica

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Sciatica can cause pain, discomfort, tingling sensations, and numbness along the entire length of the sciatic nerve. Also known as sciatic nerve pain, it is a collection of symptoms caused by various health issues. Many people will turn to the use of drugs and/or medications as well as surgery to treat sciatica; however, research studies have demonstrated that functional medicine can help improve sciatic nerve pain.

A 2010 research study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapies demonstrated that approximately 60 percent of patients with sciatica benefited from alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care. Moreover, functional medicine approaches, including acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy, among other alternative treatment options, have been demonstrated to help improve sciatic nerve pain. Functional medicine can help safely and effectively provide sciatica pain relief.

Functional Medicine Approaches for Sciatica

Treatment for sciatica can depend largely on the underlying health issues causing the painful symptoms; therefore, it’s important for people to seek help from a healthcare professional. While many doctors choose to utilize drugs and/or medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers, or steroids, to treat sciatic nerve pain, many research studies have demonstrated that alternative treatment options can help improve sciatica.  Below, we will discuss functional medicine approaches that can help improve sciatica symptoms.

Sciatica is a collection of symptoms characterized by radiating pain, tingling sensations, and/or numbness which extends throughout the length of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica, also known as sciatic nerve pain, is generally diagnosed through its symptoms and depending on the type of painful symptoms, a healthcare professional can safely and effective treat sciatic nerve pain. Functional medicine approaches, such as chiropractic as well as nutrition and lifestyle modifications, can ultimately help improve sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight

Chiropractic Care

One research study published in the Official Journal of the North American Spinal Society demonstrated that after comparing the results of 102 adults who suffered from sciatic nerve pain, those who received chiropractic care experienced less pain, fewer number of days with pain, and decreased instances moderate to severe pain compared to those adults who didn’t receive chiropractic care for their sciatica.

Disk herniations are some of the most common causes of sciatica. There are several types of “ruptured” or herniated discs. Prolapse disc bulges are considered less severe because the disc’s outermost layer is still intact; however, extrusion or sequestration disc bulges are generally considered more painful. These types of ruptured or herniated discs cause damage to the outer layer of the spinal disc, which leads tissue to push through from where it’s normally constrained. This can compress the sciatic nerve and cause symptoms.

Healthcare professionals need to know the patient’s symptoms to understand their health issues and follow the appropriate treatment approach. Sciatica can be diagnosed by a chiropractor or doctor of chiropractic during a physical exam. Doctors can also perform X-rays and other tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to diagnose the spine’s condition. After diagnosis, a chiropractor may utilize spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to correct the spine and relieve sciatic nerve pain.

Yoga

Stretches and exercise can aggravate sciatica; however, yoga has been demonstrated to help relieve sciatic nerve pain. Some people have reported that sitting and/or standing for extended periods of time and then moving around suddenly can aggravate sciatica. Scrunching or shortening the spine, such as raising the legs up and/or bringing the knees towards the chest in a squatting position, can commonly affect symptoms.

On the other hand, stretching and exercising the spine through yoga can help promote good posture while reducing stiffness, inflammation, and pain frequently associated with sciatic nerve pain. Research studies have demonstrated that yoga is a safe and effective treatment for people with sciatica. Some of the most important movements for preventing sciatic nerve pain focus on building strength and relaxing stiffness. Stretches and exercises may even be utilized in rehabilitation settings for patients with sciatica following surgery.

Acupuncture and Massage Therapy

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice based on regulating overall health and wellness by opening the human body’s natural flow of energy. It utilizes small, virtually pain-free needles to target specific pathways in the human body. Acupuncture has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for back pain, and it’s supported in various research studies for relieving chronic pain, including sciatica.

Massage therapy is another non-surgical, holistic approach that helps open muscles, tissues, and energy channels within the human body to help improve blood flow and reduce painful symptoms. Massage therapy helps reduce back pain, improve muscle relaxation, and even promote the healthy release of endorphins, or the human body’s natural “feel good” substances that act as pain relievers to improve painful symptoms.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Modifications

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients with low back pain also have sciatica; however, healthcare professionals have demonstrated that a patient’s nutrition and lifestyle can increase the risk of developing sciatic nerve pain. Also, factors like height, age, stress, being overweight or obese, sitting or standing for extended periods of time, and smoking, can also increase the risk of developing sciatica and other problems.

Many of these risk factors cause inflammation, which makes it difficult to heal from injuries and conditions. To prevent inflammation and improve the odds of developing sciatica, eat a nutrient-dense healing diet, avoid smoking/using recreational drugs, exercise, and get good sleep. Constipation may also cause toxicity and inflammation. Anything which causes toxicity or inflammation can cause sciatica. Nutrition and lifestyle modifications can ultimately help improve sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatica is a collection of symptoms caused by the compression or impingement of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Understanding the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain is essential for obtaining a diagnosis to follow up with the best treatment.


Additional Topic Discussion: Severe Sciatica

Back pain is one of the most prevalent causes of disability and missed days at work worldwide. Back pain attributes to the second most common reason for doctor office visits, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Approximately 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at least once. Your spine is a complex structure of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, among other soft tissues. Injuries and/or aggravated conditions, such as herniated discs, can eventually lead to symptoms of sciatica or sciatic nerve pain. Sports or automobile accident injuries are often the most frequent cause of painful symptoms; however, the simplest movements can sometimes have these results. Fortunately, alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, can help ease sciatic nerve pain, or sciatica, through spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, ultimately improving pain relief.


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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Functional Medicine for Sciatica" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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