Sciatica is a condition that currently affects up to forty percent of the population in the United States. While sciatica is more common in populations fifty and older, it can present in younger populations and persist throughout life as a chronic pain condition. Many people with back and joint pain conditions can expect a high possibility of experiencing sciatica at some point in their lifetime. Regardless of the preventative measures taken by patients, before or after diagnosis, the symptoms of sciatica will often debilitate and immobilize those who suffer from it. On a personal note, I have seen my own close family members become nearly immobilized for multiple days with recurring bouts of sciatica. While most of the population suffering from sciatica are middle-aged, there is no guarantee that a younger generation (say, those in their twenties or thirties) will not experience the conditions of sciatica. Males, aged 40 and older, are three times more likely to experience sciatica and seek treatment, either surgical or nonsurgical.
Sciatica pain comes from the sciatic nerve that runs from the base of the spinal cord down through the hip and pelvic area and down the length of the leg, which is the classic pain presentation of the shooting pain down the side of the leg. Most commonly, the condition is a result of nerves along your spine being compressed, which is why it is commonly associated with back pain and sacrum torsions and other such skeletal movements that can compress the nerve. It is also possible that muscle inflammation can compress the nerve as well.
Because the pain manifests along the nerves in the leg, many who experience sciatica will incorrectly assume that the problem must originate in the leg as well. This is a common misconception among those affected with sciatica and unless the proper cause is explained by a doctor, a patient may seek alternative methods for treatment with their focus on the leg, where the pain has manifested. When pain originates in one location but is expressed in another location this is a called referred pain, or radicular pain (radiating pain) as most physicians will describe it when it pertains to compressed nerves in the spine and pelvic region creating pain that radiates down into the leg. Patients who are ill-informed on the causes of sciatica and seek to treat the pain on their own will often apply heat, cold, and massaging apparatus to the affected area. These practices may only produce fleeting or ineffective results, or no results at all, but may further irritate the affected area. As with any condition of pain that exhibits itself in the body, the most important thing to do is to learn exactly what is happening in order to seek the most effective treatment. This is why a good diagnostic work up with a medical physician is important to understand the condition. There are also other pain conditions that are time sensitive in nature that may need treatment so medical physicians and thorough diagnostic testing are important know the cause of the pain. It’s also important to note here that it is not always possible to determine the cause or source of pain even with good diagnostic workups, making it even more important to have safe and effective treatment options that are non-surgical, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical.
Now that we know the origins of this condition stem from nerves along the spine, we can seek further treatment that will mitigate the pain. However, to further understand an effective treatment, sciatica typically results from the nerves along the spine being pinched. This pinching occurs either as the result of a herniated disk or an overgrowth of bone along the spine that acts as a compression point against the sciatic nerve, an overgrowth that is more commonly referred to as a bone spur, or an inflamed muscle that is compressing the nerve and radiating pain. One thing for patients to consider are the risk factors associated with sciatica. Dr. Patricia Parreira and her associates determined that the risk factors for sciatica include, “[p]oor general health, physical and psychological stress, and characteristics of the person [meaning age, race, weight, and gender]” (2018). We will go further into the risk factors that could contribute to sciatica, but patients can keep Dr. Parreira’s general definition of risk factors in mind.
A less common but still contributable risk factor that causes the pinching of the sciatic nerve can be the damage that results from diabetes. This damage is somewhat akin to the damage that results in peripheral neuropathy. However, the two conditions are not entirely exclusive and multiple symptoms of sciatica are also shared with peripheral neuropathy. In fact, there are different categories or neuropathy, one being called radicular neuropathy that also derives from compressed nerves, whereas the more common peripheral neuropathy you hear about is diabetic neuropathy which is a metabolic derived problem. Both produce similar pain sensations, and both are called neuropathy. However, they are both derived differently and should be treated differently in order to ensure proper treatment options, which goes back to needing a thorough diagnostic work up that you can only get from a medical physician or medical provider, not from another type of office that can’t actually test for or diagnose a metabolic condition like diabetic neuropathy. Just make sure you are going to an actual medical office with real medical physicians when you are seeking a diagnosis and treatment solutions for your pain.
Dr. Jensen outlines the warning signs of sciatica with the following: “Unilateral leg pain more severe than low back pain, pain most commonly radiating posteriorly at the leg and below the knee, numbness and/or paranesthesia in the involved lower leg, positive neural tension test with provocation of pain in the affected leg (straight leg raise test/femoral nerve test/slump test),” and, “neurological deficit associated with the involved nerve root” (2019). Patients should also keep in mind that some of the shared symptoms include shooting pains between the lower back and legs, burning sensations, tingling sensations, and numbness which are similar symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
While peripheral neuropathy indicates itself along the fingers and toes– hence the word peripheral– sciatica is more concentrated along the spine and is further exacerbated from sitting for long periods of time. So, those who live or work under more sedentary conditions are common patients of sciatica pain. As with many of the conditions related to chronic nerve pain, lack of exercise has repeatedly been a contributing factor. The same is especially true for sciatica. Along with exercise, patients will find a litany of nonsurgical treatments for sciatica, whose accessibility and efficacy should be determined before serious consideration.
Neuragenex is pioneering the field of Neurofunctional Pain Management and creating proprietary treatment protocols that are non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical, non-invasive, and non-chiropractic. Neurofunctional Pain Management is the concept of using high pulse electrical therapies combined with specialized hydration therapies that balance nutritional deficiencies to restore health and reduce chronic systemic inflammation and create an enhanced pain relief effect that can endure for months and months after a completed course of treatment. Neuragenex calls their proprietary treatment program Neuralgesia, which is that combination of electrical stimulation and hydration therapy in a single treatment event. Neurofunctional Pain Management stands at the forefront of the next generation of pain management treatment and is an ideal treatment option for sciatica pain in scenarios where orthopedic interventions to correct mechanical impingements are not possible or are not effective. Neuralgesia is a proprietary treatment program offered exclusively by Neuragenex and like I mentioned, it is a combination of high pulse electrical stimulation and specialized hydration therapy that work together to produce enhanced pain relief that can endure for several months after a patient completes a course of treatment. Neurofunctional Pain Management is the overall concept of electrical pain relief and health restoration to effectively manage chronic pain.
Neuralgesia treatment therapies typically last for one hour, twice a week. With the combination of high pulse electrical stimulation that is classified as electroanalgesia, which creates an effect called sustained depolarization that prevents the pain referral event from occurring, and acts as a non-pharmaceutical analgesic therapy which reduced the pain/inflammation cycle and allows tissues the reduced inflammation time to repairs damaged nerves tissues. Hydration therapy with a specialized mix of vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional components, patients will experience the most targeted and effective pain treatment in a short amount of time. With a balanced and effective vitamin and mineral nutritional restoration treatment and full-body hydration, combined with electrical stimulation that heals damaged nerves, Neurofunctional Pain Management is really the most effective next generation pain management treatment possible.
The mission of Neuragenex is to relieve pain, restore health, and magnify quality of life without drugs, surgery, or invasive procedures, while operating as a non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical, non-invasive, and non-chiropractic pain management program. Our vision is to be the first thought, first choice, and first step in the journey of chronic pain treatment for millions of patients across the nation.