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Chiropractic and Sciatica: What Can Help?

For those suffering with Sciatica, even the smallest tasks can be painful and difficult to complete. Sciatica is a common pain, which affects the sciatic nerve. This is a crucial nerve running from your lower back, down each leg. When you have Sciatica, the pain can be in either leg (or both) and can be felt in the hip area, buttocks, or feet too.

Common symptoms of Sciatica

Different people feel sciatic pain in different ways, and it affects people in different places too. Because the sciatic nerve stretches across such a large area of your body, people can experience flare-ups and pain across a wide variety of areas.

Some of these include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Sharp / stabbing pain in hips or legs
  • Sharp pain in buttocks and lower hips
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • ‘Pins and needles’ sensation in the leg or buttocks
  • Weakness in legs
  • Numbness in legs or feet
  • Shooting pain from buttocks down the legs
  • Constant sharp pain in hips
  • Pain when walking or sitting

For the majority of people, Sciatica usually only affects one side of the body, however it can affect both sides in bad cases. It depends on where the sciatic nerve has been affected.

How can a Chiropractor help?

Because Sciatica can vary so much from person to person, a personalised approach to healing needs to be taken, and this is something that can be done by chiropractic care. Unfortunately medication will not get rid of the Sciatica and usually doctors will only be able to prescribe pain relief or medication for inflammation (which can help manage the symptoms, but will not get rid of the issue).

A Chiropractor will work with you to understand the cause of the Sciatica, and will use a variety of methods to start addressing the issue and bring balance back to the body. Using a Chiropractor to help your Sciatica can help get rid of the pain quicker, and can help prevent it from occurring again in the future.

Sciatica Treatments Used by Chiropractors:

Ice/Cold Therapy: This can help by reducing the inflammation of the affected area and can help control the nerve pain. It reduces inflammation and helps control sciatic pain.

Ultrasound: This is a gentle treatment and works by generating sound waves that penetrate into the affected bodily tissues. It can help to increase circulation and reduce any spasming of the muscles. It also helps reduce cramps, swelling, stiffness and pain too (which can be a main part of the discomfort felt when suffering with Sciatica).

Adjustments (Spinal Manipulations): Spinal adjustments are what you expect to experience when you visit a Chiropractor, and it is certainly something that can aid Sciatica recovery. The Chiropractor can help restore flexibility and movement to the lower part of the body. This helps to restore normal vertebral movement in the spine, which can in turn reduce nerve irritation and pain.

Recommend home exercises: As part of your chiropractic treatment for sciatica, your chiropractor will likely recommend a few exercises and stretch to maintain at home. These will be tailored to you, and where you pain is originating from, and they can help build muscle strength and flexibility to prevent future cases of Sciatica arising.

Should you wait before seeing a Chiropractor?

Back pain can often be the result of an accident or injury (such as a strain or a sprain) but it can also pop up unexpectedly or gradually over time too. Whatever the cause for your developing back pain, it often occurs because something is off in the way your core muscles, spinal discs, spinal joints and nerve endings work together or move. It could be strain, inflammation or injury – but if the discomfort is causing you pain, and is affecting your day to day routine, you shouldn’t wait before seeking chiropractic treatment.

Having back pain can be a frightening and unnerving experience, and something you should never overlook. Many people simply brush off their discomfort and think that ‘rest and time’ is recipe enough to see the improvements they want. But doing nothing can in some cases make things worse, as you may end up increasing the strain, or worsening the injury.

Here are some types of back pain to look out for, when we would recommend chiropractic care. While you may think you need to simply strengthen your core or maintain good posture, it’s always best to seek advice and treatment from a professional.

You back pain began because of trauma or injury

If you’re experiencing back pain because of an accident or trauma, it may be something that needs to be worked on slowly by a Chiropractor. Often, in situations like this, something may have been knocked or put out of place, so a Chiropractor can help identify what happened, and begin treating back pain.

The back pain has been consistent and won’t go away

Any back pain that has been constant for more than a week or so, should be looked at by a Chiropractor. Sometimes we can experience slight back ache after exerting ourselves (trying a new exercise or moving house for example) but temporary soreness should usually ease up after a week or so. Constant pain that is frequent throughout the day is a sign that something is wrong.

The back pain is constant and seems to be getting worse

We often mistake pain for muscle ache. And whilst the natural function of our body is to slowly improve muscle issues over time (where rest and stretching can aid in recovery), if the pain is constant it may not be a muscle related issue.

If you feel the backache getting worse instead of getting better, it may not be muscle pain, it may be something else. If time is making the pain increase – you need to see a professional Chiropractor.

You feel back pain in resting positions

If you’re feeling pain when in resting positions (such as sitting or laying down) it can be a sign that something is wrong. It is also hard for us to heal properly if we’re missing sleep or losing out on rest because it’s difficult to get comfortable. A Chiropractor can help advise on this, so you can recover quicker.

You feel off balance and struggle with good posture

Any issues with balance and poor posture could cause you safety worries in all areas of your life. If standing straight or walking slowly is too painful or too difficult (because of loss of balance and a bad posture) then you need to resolve the issues quickly.

Improving your posture and the way you hold your body would be a good place to start, but people with back pain should always seek professional help from a Chiropractor.

The Dangers of Heavy Backpacks

Many people are under the assumption that backpacks are one of the more sensible and less-harmful methods of carrying items. The truth is, heavy backpacks are just as harmful as other alternatives (such as those with shoulder straps) especially if you’re over-filling them, and carrying around a backpack weight that is too much for your frame.

If you’re a regular backpack user and you’ve started to find yourself aching or experiencing strain in your back – it could be due to the backpack and the amount of weight you’ve been carrying with you. Good spinal health is vital for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Backpack dangers for children

Of course, when we think of heavy backpacks, we think of children heading off to school. Children are often at-risk from the damages that can be caused from a heavy backpack full of school supplies. They use them all week, throughout the school day. Most children walk to school, and walk between classes with their backpack on, and it’s during this time that carrying a heavy backpack can cause the most back damage.

Children are also unlikely to complain about their back problems –  as they have less experience of pain to compare their discomfort to. So, if your children are using backpacks for school, as their parent you need to be checking the weight of the backpack and the comfort of your child frequently. This is even more important if your children is likely to carry multiple books or digital devices such as tablets of laptops. It’s also important to teach your children how to wear their backpack properly, as many children will wear it in a way that ‘looks cool’ but might not necessarily give them the support they need.

Many Chiropractors see children throughout the year who experience strains in their muscles and joints, muscle aches, balance issues, posture problems and even misalignments due to backpack related injuries. They also treat children who experience sleeping issues because of backpack-related pain in their spine and hips.

Of course, these back issues can all be experienced by adults too, who may be having the same problem.

Backpack dangers for adults

For adults experiencing back pain from their heavy backpacks, the best preventative treatment is to reduce the weight you’re carrying, or find a new way of transporting items. In cities such as London, many commuters choose to use the small pull-along cases that many brands design for hand luggage on planes. These are usually small enough for most forms of public transport, but allow the same storage as a backpack (with none of the associated back pain).

If purchasing a new bag isn’t an option, make sure you’re carrying your items properly, and wearing your bag correctly too. You should always wear both straps of your backpack, and you should pull the bag tightly to your body so it isn’t bouncing or slouched. Try to also pack your bag mindfully, considering where items are placed and trying to centralise the heaviest things.

If you’re already experiencing pain and you need help, then chiropractic treatment is the best option for recovery. Chiropractic care will not only advise you on posture techniques, spinal manipulation, and recommend exercises to help you manage the pain, but they can also start the healing process to help you regain strength and confidence in your back once again.

Back damage can stop you doing all kind of activities and everyday tasks, so it is something you want to address and get a professional to look at, as soon as you recognise it.

How Technology is Affecting Chiropractic Treatments

Visiting a medical professional can often be a chore, or something a lot of people dread days in advance. A lot of treatments and technology can seem scary and dated, and it’s especially daunting if you’re not familiar with the process, or what is being done.

However, for chiropractic care, technology is making treatments easier, quicker, and more accurate. This gives patients a better overall experience.

What technology are chiropractic treatments using?

For decades, chiropractors have performed spinal manipulation manually. They rely on touch, sensation and years of practise to bring positive results to their patients. With the introduction of exciting technology though, such as SpineTech Therapy, diagnosis can be quicker and more accurate, and results may be seen faster.

SpineTech Therapy has various sensors that scan and assess the alignment of the patient. The main sensor is called the Piezoelectric Sensor and it detects the motion of the spine and how the joins move together well (or in many cases, not well).

For a chiropractor, it does the ‘feeling’ for them, and can deliver a more accurate reading. It can show where the spine is fixated, if there is anywhere the spine is stuck. It can also detect if there’s any degeneration, and which joints require assistance and further examination.

Another technology advancement for chiropractors is called the INSiGHT Scanning Technology – which can help a chiropractor understand exactly what’s wrong in their patient’s spine. An incorrect diagnosis (at any stage of treatment) can often worsen the outcome – so it’s crucial to get everything right from the beginning. This piece of technology allows chiropractors to diagnose the underlying problem more accurately.

An evolution of chiropractic technology

For many people in the industry, new technological advancements like these will mean visiting the chiropractor is easier, simpler and the level or assessment is higher too. It means that those experiencing neck pain or back pain can now seek safer and more detailed treatments and mean that manual therapies and spinal adjustments are not always needed.

It’s an evolution in technology that will change the way the industry works, and how patients are seen and treated.

How to Correct your Posture

If you find yourself experiencing back pain or dull aches, it could be your back posture that needs correcting and adjusting. Good posture is the key to good back health, and yet so many of us fall short of what’s recommended. You might also suffer from poor posture for other reasons, such as hunching your back whilst driving. Below are some tips to help you improve and correct your posture:

See a Chiropractor

Of course, one of the most effective things you can do to improve your posture is to see a chiropractor. It’s a chiropractors job to recognise any issues in your posture and also identify any reasons why these problems may have occurred over time. They can recommend exercises and stretches for you to carry forward at home, as well as inspecting and analysing your back and seeing where and what is most affected.

Make time for stretching and meditation

In the morning or evening, make time for stretching or meditation – two things that can slowly help correct posture. These activities can help you warm up your muscles, become more flexible, and gain more confidence in the way your body moves. The more supple and flexible your body is, the more you’ll be able to improve your posture.

Recognise when you’re slouching, and correct yourself

One of the biggest indicators of bad posture, is slouching. Most people slouch all the time, throughout the day, and it’s an easy habit to fall into. If you take a look around, you’ll probably see people slouching as they walk, or people slouching over their phone, or even slouching into their seat (for example on a train or in the car).

A good trick is to recognise when you slouch the most, and make a conscious effort to correct yourself. When you’re on your phone, hold it to eye level, so you don’t need to bend to look at it. When you’re walking stand up straight, or when you’re sitting straighten your back and sit upright. Simple corrections like this can make a big difference.

Sleep comfortably

You may find yourself slouching or having bad posture because your body is compensating for a bad night’s sleep. If you wake up with back ache, it’s easy to slouch or adjust your posture to compensate for the pain. Instead, try and work out what is preventing you from sleeping peacefully, and aim to resolve it. You may need a softer mattress, or a firmer one, or maybe more supportive pillows for your neck.

Work from a better position

You spend most of your day at work, so correcting your posture during working hours is really important, especially if you want to see an overall improvement. Posture isn’t just something to take into account when stood up – posture is important when sat down too. A quick solution, is to purchase simple posture

Why do Flat Feet Cause Back Pain?

Back pain is an extremely common condition and in many cases, the cause is unknown. From posture and alignment to activities we carry out on a daily basis, there are many reasons why back pain is a growing problem affecting 1 in 10 people.

Ongoing lower back pain can be debilitating, causing emotional distress and forcing sufferers to take time off work. Despite this, it is still an often overlooked condition and GPs struggle to find the root of the problem or prescribe the best treatment. Medication such as painkillers simply masks the problem rather than treating the underlying cause.

Read more

Can A Chiropractor Help With Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spinal condition which can affect babies, children, adolescents and adults. It causes the spine to curve into an S shape, which can sometimes make the body look uneven or cause back pain. While some babies are born with the condition, scoliosis can start to appear at any age and usually presents between 10-15 years of age. It is thought that three or four children out of every 1,000 in the UK have the condition and require treatment. Read more

Why is Chronic Back Pain so Difficult to Cure?

Back pain is a huge problem worldwide, and many people suffer chronic back pain long term because it’s very difficult to diagnose and treat. Lower back pain affects 1 in 10 people according to researchers from all over the world, and is becoming increasingly common. Experts think the modern lifestyle is the main cause of back pain – a combination of lack of exercise, too much sitting, bad posture and some types of jobs could also be to blame.

Most of us will experience an episode of back pain at some point in our lives. However for some individuals, the pain is persistent and difficult to treat. There are many different underlying causes of back pain, so it’s important to establish the problem before a GP or back specialist can recommend treatment.

Here’s a few reasons why treating back pain is so difficult.

Difficult to diagnose

There’s a number of different types of back pain and it’s difficult to tell what patients are feeling. There is no test which can perfectly identify back pain and recognise if it relates to an underlying condition, so doctors often have to rely on descriptions of the pain. Someone with chronic back pain could be suffering from sciatica, a slipped disc or non-specific back pain and an accurate diagnosis could take some time.

Image of girl with back painLack of understanding for chronic back pain treatment

Most people know that back pain is a common problem and that it often goes away on its own within a few weeks. The majority of sufferers manage the pain with painkillers – but don’t seek advice or treat the root cause of the pain. There isn’t enough awareness about the wide range of back pain treatments available, including manual therapy, physiotherapy and specific exercise and stretch programmes.

Trial and error

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for general back pain, and people are likely to respond to different treatments. The back has many different muscles, joints and tissues so it can be hard to target the exact area which is causing the pain. There is always more than one option available, so if the first recommended treatment didn’t really have an effect, go back to your doctor and ask for something different. It’s trial and error for most people – sometimes a combination of treatments works well.

Ignoring the symptoms

Many people are reluctant to visit a doctor with back pain – some people prefer the grin and bear it approach. However, ignoring the symptoms can only make the problem worse. Sufferers who are having a ‘bad day’ with their pain may choose to stay off work and lie in bed all day. This is only making the back pain more intense, and other ill informed decisions like these can prolong the episode of back pain. If you see a GP or chiropractor straight away, they can advise certain treatments and give general tips for avoiding pain in the future.