Have you ever woken up and had burning pain going down the back of your leg. As a chiropractor, I see this everyday. You are going along, everything is great, and then BAM, your leg is killing you and you feel like it will never go away.
A brief review of anatomy is in store here. The sciatic nerve begins in the low back, travels through your buttocks and heads down the leg. If anywhere in the course of the nerve, pressure is put on it, pain and numbness can occur. The most common form of pressure is swelling from a misalignment. As the pressure builds up, the nerve compresses and WHAM, you have sciatica.
What to do when I get sciatica.
Once we have it, the key is getting rid of it quickly. Here is where ice and Dr. Harrington are your best friend. If the sciatica is from the spine being out of place a few adjutments will go a long way to helping you reduce the pressure on your nerves. While we are reducing the pressure on your nerves by putting your spine in place, ice will help calm the swelling down thereby taking pressure off the affected nerve.
Here in the northeast, we are getting buried by snow. Not only is there a ton of snow on the ground but the forecast is for temps in the low teens.
Patients in my office are getting a double dose of cold, for we ice most of out patients after they get adjusted and stretched. People always ask, why ice and not heat.
If we look at basic first aid, everyone is taught the RICE principle when injuring an area. R stands for rest; I for ice, C for compression, and E for elevation. This principle is typically applied for the first 48 hours and then heat should be applied.
Now for an extremity this is great advice, however, for the spine I believe that it is best to stick with ice and ice only, please let me explain why.
When you examine a spine you will see nerves coming out of each side of the spine. These nerve roots pass through two small holes called foramen. When your spine misaligns, swelling is present in those holes, placing pressure on the nerve roots that exit them. We know through studies that pressure on the nerve roots causes the nerves to function less than optimally. This pressure could easily cause pain, numbness, tingling etc,.
If we don’t reduce this inflammation, the nerves never get a chance to work to their potential and you never get a chance to feel as good as you deserve.
Next time it is below freezing outside and even colder in my office you will know that at least the cold in the office is trying to accomplish something!
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