It is estimated that between 70-90% of all Australians will suffer back pain in their lifetime.
Of these about 10% will suffer significant disability as a result. As a chiropractor I find that sciatic pain is one of the most self-diagnosed and misdiagnosed conditions I treat.
By far the most common cause of back pain is a muscle/ligamentous strain. Patients may be in significant pain initially but a proper diagnosis and treatment will see them return to good health within weeks not months.
Sciatic back pain is caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve. Accurate diagnosis is vital because it determines appropriate treatment paths. Sciatica results in pain – often sharp or burning – radiating down the leg to the foot. It is most often associated with a acute episode. On occasions, further diagnostic testing may be required to determine the extent of the injury. Most episodes of sciatica respond well to chiropractic treatment however some may require consultation with neurologists. Initially pain and/or anti-inflammatory medication may be required before treatment can commence.
In most instances chiropractic treatment can help without the need for surgery. Treatments vary depending on the extent of injury but often involve soft tissue therapy, trigger point release, muscular dry needling, traction and low force adjustments. All of these treatments aim to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
The key to best outcomes is gaining a quick and accurate diagnosis. Chiropractors can refer patients for X-rays or other appropriate imaging and liaise with other health professionals to ensure the best patient outcomes.