When is the Best Time to See a Doctor for Sciatica Treatment?
If you’re not sure when to see a doctor for sciatica, you’re not alone. Sciatica affects 40% of Americans at some point in their lives.
The most common patients are 35-55 years old. Younger people are less likely to have it unless another injury has caused it. This condition is totally treatable, though the duration of treatment depends on many factors.
When chiropractors start treating sciatica patients, many patients improve by 50% in the first four weeks. Patients improve by another 50% at the end of eight weeks. Some cases can take as long as a year to improve, and some patients never return to 100%.
In this overview of the symptoms and causes of sciatica, we hope to educate you about why you should seek a medical professional for your sciatica as soon as possible. Sciatica is a serious problem that has caused thousands to develop opioid addictions. It has left thousands more unable to work, many of whom must go on disability. Some might even opt for spinal surgery (which doesn’t always help). Here’s why it’s crucial to get conservative, professional help immediately!
Where Does Sciatica Come From?
Sciatica manifests as pain, numbness or weakness in the lower back, buttocks and legs. It occurs when there is irritation along either or both sciatic nerves, which travel from the lower back to the feet. When the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed, people will develop the classic symptoms of sciatica.
Sciatica usually occurs on one side of the body, though it can occur in both legs for some patients. The latter case is almost always more severe, requiring the most immediate medical attention if the pain is accompanied by numbness in the groin or a progressive loss of control in the bowels or bladder. Ultimately, where the pain travels down the leg is determined by which “nerve root” is being irritated.
What Symptoms of Sciatica Need Care Most Urgently?
While the roots of the sciatic nerves are in the lower back, we emphasize that pain isn’t restricted to that area. In most cases, back pain is worse than leg pain, but as you note your own symptoms, you may find that the pain in your legs is much more profound than the pain in your back. In either case, the prognosis isn’t good, requiring urgent aid.
In severe cases, you may develop cauda equina syndrome, a condition that causes patients to lose control of their bowels and bladders. If your sciatica has graduated to cauda equina syndrome, go to the emergency room right away. You’ll need back surgery within 48 hours.
Chiropractors are usually the best option for sciatica treatment in non-emergency contexts. Chiropractic care is safe, effective and conservative. No drugs or surgery are necessary. Chiropractors are also trained to refer patients to neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and pain management doctors when necessary. If you start low back care with a surgeon, there’s a 43% chance you’ll have surgery. With a chiropractor, this percentage plummets to 1.5%.
What Slows Down Sciatica Recovery?
The more comorbidities you have, the more slowly you’ll heal from sciatica. Young, healthy people can develop sciatica, but their recoveries are usually much smoother, they’re less likely to have exacerbations, they’ll heal much faster and they’re much less likely to need injections or surgery. Some common comorbidities are as follows:
Everyday stress changes the shape of your spine and the spaces among your vertebrae over time. Your spinal column becomes narrower, and your discs become thinner. Medical professionals refer to this process as “spinal stenosis,” which creates a claustrophobic environment for your nerves.
These nerves are much more likely to rub against surrounding anatomy in the absence of space. They may not receive the oxygenated blood they need, causing pain, numbness and discomfort. Genetics can also play a major role in whether somebody develops sciatica.
Being overweight can also slow the healing process of sciatica. The excess weight increases pressure on the lumbar region in the lower spine, increasing the chance of aggravating disc herniation and irritating the sciatic nerve further.
People who are overweight often suffer from profound tissue inflammation, which slows healing.
Diabetes slows healing processes all over the body, especially those of damaged nerves. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves across the body, which slows sciatic nerve healing.
Other comorbidities that might slow the healing process include:
- Auto-immune diseases
- Thyroid problems
- High blood pressure
- A sedentary lifestyle
When Should I See a Doctor for Sciatica?
Sciatica is common, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious condition that deserves immediate attention. Don’t wait three months to see a doctor for sciatica. Don’t wait two weeks. We’re talking about something that can cause disability, require invasive surgery or addictive opioids.
You can endure invasive surgery later or contact a chiropractor now. Conservative treatment with a chiropractor taps into the body’s natural ability to heal through exercise, therapy and diet.
Tumors, fractures, spondylolisthesis and cauda equina syndrome are all red flags that require a trip to the emergency room, but in their absence, you’re free to avoid surgery and addictive painkillers by visiting a chiropractor.
Whether pain has developed in one of your legs or you’re simply concerned about where to go for sciatica pain, Algonquin Chiropractic Center has served McHenry County for 30 years.
Led by Dr. Anthony Galante, our dedicated team understands that every spine is different, personalizing approaches to chiropractic care for all patients. No matter how many visits to a chiropractor you need to manage your sciatica, we know we can help.
If you’re experiencing back pain, don’t rush into surgeries with months-long recovery times or dangerous relationships with addictive painkillers. Instead, enjoy conservative, painless treatment at Algonquin Chiropractic Center.
Please call (847) 854-2000 today to schedule an appointment!