Up to 40 percent of people in the U.S. will deal with sciatica at some point during their lives. If you’re already struggling with chronic or acute back pain, you also face a higher risk of developing this condition.
One of the best approaches to managing sciatica is to work with an osteopath. If you are dealing with this condition or know someone who is, read on to learn more about how to get rid of sciatica with an osteopath’s help.
What Is Sciatica?
The term “sciatica” refers to pain that is felt along the same path as the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that branches out from the lower back and runs on both sides of the body through the hips, buttocks, and down the legs.
Most people only experience sciatica on one side of their body.
The most common symptom that a person with sciatica will likely experience is pain that starts in the lower back and radiates down through the back of the leg. The pain can extend down as far as the calf in some cases.
The severity of the pain varies from person to person. For some, it’s a mild, dull ache. For others, it’s sharp and burning and can even become excruciating, like an electric shock.
Certain activities may aggravate sciatica symptoms, too. For example, if one sits for too long, their pain might get worse. It can also be exacerbated by sneezing or coughing.
In addition to pain, other symptoms of sciatica include numbness, muscle weakness, and/or tingling in the affected leg. These symptoms can affect the foot, too.
Keep in mind that it’s also possible to experience multiple symptoms at once. For example, you might have pain in your hip and feel numbness or tingling in your calf and foot.
It’s not always clear what causes sciatica. Often, though, the culprit is a herniated disc that is causing a nerve to become pinched. Spinal stenosis, which occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrowed and inflamed, can also place pressure on the nerves and contribute to sciatica.
Some people are more prone to developing sciatica, including members of the following populations:
- Those who are older
- Those who are overweight or obese
- Those whose jobs require them to carry heavy loads, twist their spine often, or sit for long periods of time
- Those who live a sedentary lifestyle
Those who suffer from diabetes also are more likely to struggle with sciatica. This is because, due to their condition, they’re already at risk of nerve damage throughout the body, including damage to the sciatic nerve.
What Is an Osteopath?
There are many medical experts who may claim to have the skills necessary to treat sciatica. One of the best people to seek out if you’re dealing with the symptoms listed above, though, is an osteopath.
At this point, you might be wondering, “What is an osteopath?” or “What is osteopathy?”
In short, an osteopath provides the best of both worlds. They are physicians who combine traditional medicine with osteopathic manipulation techniques. This includes stretching, massaging, and moving the skeletal system in specific ways to relieve pain and treat a wide range of conditions.
If you go and see a traditional medical doctor for help with your sciatica, they might just write you a prescription for painkillers and send you on your way.
An osteopath, though, is more likely to take you through a series of exercises that allow you to get to the root of your discomfort and manage it in a more sustainable, long-term way.
How to Get Rid of Sciatica with an Osteopath’s Help
What kind of techniques to osteopaths use to get rid of sciatica? They have lots of different tricks up their sleeve. The following are some of the most common strategies they use when working with sciatica patients:
Soft Tissue Work
Osteopaths often use massage and other soft tissue relaxation techniques to help treat tight muscles, improve lymphatic drainage, and reduce inflammation throughout the body. This, in turn, helps to relieve pain and minimize the amount of pressure being placed on your sciatic nerve.
An osteopath may also teach you some postural exercises to help you alter the way you sit and stand. Improving your posture can reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve and help to relieve pain.
Proper Lifting Techniques
If your job requires you to do a lot of lifting and you’re not able to take a break from that, work with an osteopath to learn proper lifting techniques. They’ll show you how you can perform your job in a way that’s least likely to cause damage.
Regular Exercise Schedule
An osteopath will also likely recommend that you stick to a regular exercise schedule. Low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, yoga, and pilates can all benefit those with sciatica.
How to Choose an Osteopath
Does the osteopathic approach seem more appealing to you? If you want to see an osteopath for help with your sciatica, keep these tips in mind. They’ll help you find an osteopath who’s a perfect match for you:
- Ask for a referral from your primary care physician or a friend or family member
- Make sure their license is up to date
- Look into their specialty to see if they work with lots of sciatica patients
- Read reviews online to see what past patients have said about them
- Schedule a consultation to see how well you two get along
A consultation is especially important. It’s much easier to decide if someone is a good fit for you if you can talk to them in-person first.
Say Goodbye to Sciatica Today
Sciatica can be a frustrating and debilitating condition to deal with. Luckily, though, there are some effective strategies out there that you can use to get a handle on your symptoms and treat the condition from the ground up.
Now that you know how to get rid of sciatica with an osteopath’s help, it’s time to begin searching for the perfect osteopath.
Follow the steps outlined above to ensure you find the right doctor to assist you. Don’t forget to check out the other health and fitness articles on our site, too, to access more useful resources.