Millions of people deal with sciatica on a day to day basis. I’ve discussed many different treatments in previous blogs. If you have read them already the I would recommend reading them to get a better understanding of what sciatica is and what treatments will give you the best results.
A few really bad misconceptions that people have about sciatica and other low back symptoms is that: 1) it will go away on its own, 2) I can take a few pills and it will make me better. These are actually very common misconceptions that people have about most medical issues. In this article you will read how and why each of these mindsets are false when dealing with sciatica.
It will go away on its own, right?
Most people have a fear that when they go to a doctor they are going to get this life ending diagnosis that they cant handle so to avoid that conversation or conflict they tell themselves that it will go away on its own. And its not just a fear or hope, its actually a belief that people have about how their body and health works in general. If I don’t have symptoms I’m good. If I do have symptoms then eventually they will go away because other symptoms I’ve had in the past have gone away. This is really the case if you’ve felt it before.
With sciatica, in most cases, the pain isn’t unbearable. It doesn’t stop your everyday activities. You can still work, eat, and continue life as usual even with the pain, so why go and see a doctor and pay a bill if it goes away on it own, right? In my opinion, this way of thinking is indirectly why, according to the American Chiropractic Association, low back pain is the single leading cause of disability world wide and why its one of the most common reasons why people miss work.
Conditions like sciatica don’t just go away on their own. That’s because sciatic symptoms are caused by a direct pressure on a nerve in the lower back or buttocks region in every case and that pressure doesn’t always cause symptoms. Just because you don’t have any pain or sensations going down into the buttocks or legs doesn’t mean there is no compression on the nerves by the vertebral misalignment, disc herniation, disc bulge, and/or muscle irritation.
When you have a flare up with pain and/or symptoms from sciatica, in actuality, its an aggravation of an already damaged or problematic area. Aggravations can commonly include inflammation and swelling of the discs or soft tissue structures and that is what is causing the sensations. When that swelling and inflammation decreases, the pain goes away. At this time you feel better and think you’re healed but that is not the case. Usually it just comes back again and again.
The worse part about it is that it DOES get worse. The abnormal structure that is causing the sciatica can and will start to degenerate if its not properly corrected. Degeneration presents in the form of bones and joints becoming arthritic, nerves being permanently damaged, discs drying up and dying, and joints becoming more and more stiff. Most of these situations can lead you to surgery.
Usually, if I take something over the counter and it goes away
Taking a medication for a structural issue is like putting a piece of black tape over you check engine light and not expecting your car to break down. You would think that we have a great health case system in America. Houston has on the biggest medical centers in the country (that’s not a good thing). It very fancy and high-tech but only because so many Houstonians and people from surrounding cities are always sick and flooding the entire center with enough money to look that way.
When sciatica symptoms flare up, inflammation is likely one of the culprits peaks and creates pain and pressure within damaged structures and one of the common things I hear in practice is the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as: ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen. Studies show that these drugs help to reduce inflammation and if you Google treatment options, its one of the first things that shows up. But, that doesn’t mean it s the best thing for you.
Although it helps to decrease the inflammation now, it’s only helping you with the by product of your real problem. The ibuprofen or other drug will act as the black tape and all you’re doing is covering up the warning sign (engine light) but the problem remains and is tearing your body down the longer its there. Usually the problem will gets worse, then there is an increase in the amount or dosage of the medication being taken, then after it seem that the drugs aren’t working anymore, there’s the moment where you realize that something is really wrong and you need professional help.
It’s easier to just get it fixed.
My professional advise would be to not fall into this way of thinking. It’s usually cheaper and less time consuming when you see a chiropractor and treat the cause of the problem. Sciatica occurs due to a structural imbalance in the body. It’s usually a disc that is herniated due to abnormal structure in the lumbar spine or is damaged, vertebral misalignments that create pressure to the nerve roots, or a pelvic imbalance that can creates lumbar spine misalignments or tight or inflamed muscles that cause compression to the sciatic nerve. With those most common caused of sciatica now listed, go to a spinal specialist, which is your local chiropractor, and find out which is causing your sciatica. This information will better identify which treatment option would be best to treat your specific cause of sciatica.
Doing nothing or covering up the problem only makes things worse usually with anything you do. The decisions we make today affect the future directions we take. Your health is too important to wish or hope things will be fine and go away on their own.
Dr. Bryen Brown is married to Dawn and has one son. He grew up in Bogalusa, LA and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Grambling State University in 2008. He then attended and graduated from Texas Chiropractic College in 2012. Click Here To Read Full Bio