With millions of Americans out there who suffer from sciatic nerve pain, it’s inevitable for misconceptions about sciatica to float around.
Some don’t even know what a sciatic nerve is and where it is. It also doesn’t help that even health professionals misuse the term.
Misconceptions about this condition and misinformation can be very dangerous. It’s like a wrong diagnosis.
Let’s talk about the most common misconceptions about sciatica, and hopefully, I can clear them up for you.
Just to be clear, your sciatic nerve is your longest nerve in the body. It starts from the lower back and your buttocks and continues into your legs.
Myth #1: It Is A Medical Condition.
Fact: Out of all the widespread myths out there, this one takes the cake as the one that refuses to die down.
Sciatica is not a disease and therefore not a diagnosis. It is, in fact, a set of symptoms caused by a problem with your spine. These symptoms being a pain in your buttocks and leg, weakness, numbness, a burning or a tingling sensation.
It is also not the root cause of your symptoms but occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed by a spinal issue such as herniated discs, bone spurs, lumbar disc disease, or spinal tumors just to name a few.
Myth #2: Rest Will Make It Go Away.
Fact: If your sciatic nerve is irritated, don’t think you can remedy it by sleeping it off. It is not like a headache. If you let it go on for too long, you can suffer from permanent nerve damage. With permanent nerve damage, you get lifelong pain as well.
Myth #3: Avoid Physical Activity.
Fact: If the pain is too much, resting for a day or two is acceptable. Treatment and maintenance do include physical activity in the form of exercise and stretching. Exercising helps relieve the symptoms of an irritated sciatic nerve.
“I encourage my patients to squeeze in physical activity as much as they can and to remain active,” said Dr. Marilyn Goodman, BSN, BSA, DC speaking on the importance of exercise. “Be inactive for too long, and your back muscles and your core will weaken, not to mention tightening muscles puts stress on your back which will worsen the symptoms. Strong muscles are what you need to support your spine and maintain proper posture.”
Myth #4: Have Surgery To Fix It.
Fact: Unless you experience loss of function, it’s best to treat this holistically without resorting to surgery. Chiropractic treatment includes spinal manipulation, hot and cold therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), or epidural steroid injections.
If all else fails, only then should surgery be a serious consideration.
Myth #5: Pain Is The Only Symptom Of Sciatica.
Fact: If left untreated, a pinched sciatic nerve can lead to the inability to control your bowels or bladder. And in extremely severe cases can cause paralysis.
Myth #6: Pain Medication Will Make It Go Away.
Fact: When dealing with pain, take into consideration the potential long-term effects of muscle relaxants, painkillers, narcotics, and anti-seizure medications that do not address what’s causing your condition and manage the symptoms.
Myth #7: I Can Google And Self-Treat.
Fact: A thorough evaluation of your spine plus other tests need to be done for an accurate diagnosis. If you Google your symptoms, you will not get a proper diagnosis, and it’s highly likely you will not find out the root cause of your symptoms until it’s too late.
A chiropractor – an expert in the spine can properly diagnose your condition, determine the root of the cause, and set you up with a holistic treatment and maintenance.
Myth #8: You Did Something Wrong.
Fact: If you suffer from sciatic nerve pain, don’t blame yourself. It can be due to many years of poor posture, physical labor, sitting at a desk, and accidents like tripping and falling.
Myth #9: You Are Stuck With It For The Rest Of Your Life.
Fact: No. You don’t have to live with sciatic nerve pain for the rest of your life. The earlier you address the symptoms, the earlier you can detect the cause and the better you can avoid worsening the symptoms and the least likely for permanent damage to incur.
The number of times I’ve met patients who have decided to prolong their suffering by delaying a proper check-up is staggering. Some have injured themselves by copying exercises on Youtube and some did not know they had something serious all along – like cancer.
The bottom line is: sciatic pain symptoms merit checking.
Myth #10: Getting A Proper Diagnosis Is Expensive.
Fact: Only if you choose to pay more will you pay more.
There are many chiropractors out there, with varied price points. What I am trying to say is you have the option to choose the best chiropractor for you – the one whose services you can afford, and the one who has the most suitable package for you.