Sciatica…Wow, That Hurts!


Nothing quite grabs your attention quite like an electric shock that travels down your leg. Sciatica is the term used to describe a pinched nerve from your spine in the lower part of your back.  How in the world did this happen?

Your spine is made up of movable segments that are separated by small jelly like discs and surrounded with muscles and ligaments. These structures provide support and absorb shock.   Unfortunately they are also vulnerable to both accidents (sports injuries and falls) and repetitive stress injuries (sitting at a computer all day or carrying your kids on the same hip everyday). When the Sciatic Nerve becomes impinged this is often referred to as sciatica. 

I’m in an incredible amount of pain and I can barely move, what do I do now? Take a deep breath and reach for the phone. Calling your chiropractor will bring you piece of mind. Misalignments in your spine with pressure on the nerves is exactly what your chiropractor is trained to analyze and correct. Usually a chiropractor can see you the same day and if they cannot the wait is usually only a day or two.

The amount of adjustments needed to get you up and running will vary depending on the severity of the injury and whether the patient has any old injuries or complicating conditions.  It is well known that doctors of chiropractic are rated #1 with regard to back injuries.

I need to feel better immediately what should I use ice or heat? For an injury that has recently occurred ice is always the preferred choice.  Ice is effective for a couple reasons. First is pain relief, ice is fantastic at limiting pain signals in the body and it only affects the area that is contacted unlike pain medication which affects the whole body. Also ice reduces inflammation which is present in a recent injury.  Inflammation and swelling restrict motion increase fluid and sensitivity.

Should I ever use heat? Heat is helpful when the injury has been present for a long time and no swelling is present. Heat increases circulation to the surrounding tissues as well as loosens up the muscles and ligaments. It is useful for common forms of arthritis.

As a side note on heat, I often hear of patients using heat for acute injuries because it feels good. While heat may feel good temporarily it will increase swelling.   Within 1-2 hours after heat the joints motion will be very restricted and painful. If you really want to use heat always finish with a period of ice for 15-20 minutes.

Ice guidelines

Apply ice to recent injuries or areas of swelling.

Ice for 15-20 minutes on the affected area and 40 minutes off, repeat as necessary.

Always use a towel or cloth between the ice pack and your skin to avoid injury.

Heat guidelines

Apply heat to old or chronic injuries without swelling.

Heat will improve circulation and fluid to the contacted area.

Heat for 10-15 minutes at a time; do not fall asleep with heat on.

Do not use extremely hot temperatures.


Platinum Chiropractic 

Serving the greater Grand Rapids area; Standale, Walker, Wyoming, and Grandville

Grand Rapids, MI 49534


[email protected]

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