“Sciatica” is a slang term often used to describe pain in the sciatic nerve distribution. More often than not, this involves symptoms down the back of the thigh below the knee and into the foot. This is caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, sciatica is not actually a diagnosis but rather a slang term used to describe nerve irritation in the back of the thigh and leg.
Numbness, Tingling in the Leg
One of the more common causes of numbness, tingling, pain or aching in the lower limb (following a sciatic pattern) is lumbar disc herniation. Many people refer to this condition as a “slipped disk”, a “pinched nerve” or a disc bulge. Lumbar disc herniation is an area of considerable interest for researchers as the treatment options range from exercises, clinical treatment (like that from a physiotherapist or chiropractor) to surgery.
Treatment for Sciatica
There is ample evidence supporting each avenue of treatment for sciatica. For example, a large 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no difference between patients who underwent micro-discectomy (surgery) to a group that were treated with physical therapy modalities and steroidal injections. Another study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that lumbar spine traction, ultrasound and low intensity laser therapy were all effective in the reduction of sciatic nerve pain and the reduction of the size of the lumbar disc protrusion.
Sciatica Exercises…Do They Work?
A third example of research for sciatica treatment is a 2006 study published in the journal Physical Therapy. The authors of this paper found that exercise-based management of a patient with lumbar disc herniation not only decreased symptoms after nine weeks, but demonstrated resolution of disc extrusion and relief of the nerve root compression on a follow-up MRI. So what is the best way to treat a lumbar disc herniation?
Treatment For Lumbar Disc and Sciatica
There are many variables that play a role in the decision making process for lumbar disc herniation management. Our clinic usually recommends starting with the most conservative approach that is appropriate for an individual’s symptoms. Occasionally, in severe cases, surgical intervention may be warranted. In the province of Ontario, your medical doctor or your doctor of chiropractic have the ability to diagnose this condition for you. Obviously, a proper diagnosis is the first step for a successful treatment outcome! Need help? Give us a call! 905.220.7858 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hahne AJ, Ford JJ. Functional restoration for a chronic lumbar disk extrusion with associated radiculopathy. Physical Therapy 2006; 86(12): 1668-1680.
Unlu Z et al. Comparison of 3 physical therapy modalities for acute pain in lumbar disc herniation measured by clinical evaluation and magnetic resonance imaging. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2008; 31: 191-198.
Weinstein JN et al. Surgical vs. non-operative treatment for lumbar disk herniation: the spine patient outcomes research trial (sport): a randomized trial. JAMA 2006; 296: 2441-2450.