The shooting hot pain down one leg, or both if you are unlucky, is well-known to every chiropractor and osteopath in the world. We specialise in this condition and it forms one of the major parts of our practice.

The sooner after any injury, be it from sport or from a fall, that you have the joint adjusted, the sooner it will be mended. It is important not to waste time. If you ignore treatment the next two or three days will be crucial. You are an injury waiting to happen.

During the next couple of days, you will be just bending over to pick up the soap, or simply twisting to heave yourself out of bed, when this gripping pain will race down your back into your leg.

Do you want to know how to make it worse? Put the electric blanket on! Or have a hot bath! The inflamed ligaments around the sprain/strain will be further aggravated by the heat. The last thing you want is a ride to hospital for traction.

All you need is ice to reduce the swelling. Think of a lower back injury as if it were a sprained ankle. How would you handle that situation? That’s right — lie down and take the weight off it. Next, ice pack it, and then support it with an elastic wrap. Then a few hours later when you can walk trot down to the

chiropractor to have the joint adjusted and take the pressure off the nerve.

You must have no exercise for ten days to three weeks — until the ligaments heal — then into the pool or whatever exercise your chiropractor recommends.

A long car journey is an aggravation to chronic sciatica. The sitting position stretches the sacro-iliac joint and the repetitive movement of getting in and out of the car as you stop to look at something or to visit the toilet, brings the irritated sciatic nerve to screaming point. Consequently I hear about many people’s holidays first hand as I treat their sciatic pain after a long trip.

The first thing you should do is lie down and take the stretch off the pelvic joint. Put a pillow under the troubled leg to release the tension over the joint.

Don’t heat the joint if the pain is radiating into the thigh, knee or ankle. Ice it for ten minutes every hour till the pain subsides. The next morning you will be able to walk to the toilet, get dressed, move your body to your chiropractor’s couch!

If possible, let the sweeping and vacuum cleaning be done by another member of the family. Or you will injure yourself again. Don’t become depressed because ‘it never seems to heal’. Just do the right thing and be patient.

Sitting is often the wrong thing to do. Watching TV while recuperating will aggravate the condition — that low lounge chair wrecks your lower back every time. Can’t someone make furniture that supports our spines?

If you are elderly and your back injury occurred many years ago, this does not mean that you cannot be helped. So much depends on the cause of the problem and on the condition of the joints needing therapy. The skeleton needs gentle handling at any time, but more so when the frame has taken a lot of stress over the years.

Osteopathic work is always available to you no matter what your age. All muscles can be gently ‘untangled’ to improve their circulation and assist the drainage of tried muscles. Fibrositis can be massaged away to restore the stretch necessary for movement.

Acupuncture and moxibustion easily attract warmth and relaxation to the area, and are valuable tools when relieving sciatica. We can help cramps and coldness in the leg. Many a seventy-year-old has told me that this was their first massage and they were sorry they had waited so long.

Chiropractic also has specific adjusting techniques for the frail, the young and the frightened.

Mrs Mac’s story-I’m a woman in my eighties and had been incapacitated with a painful thigh and hip for two years. My doctor said it was a bit of rheumatism that comes with old age and gave me something to rub in with some tablets to take. I’ve got so many tablets now that I rattle.

Well I suffered with it for over two years till I came to Sydney to visit my daughter and she took me along to see her chiropractor. I was very nervous about this as my doctor had advised me not to have anything to do with them at my age.

But my daughter insisted, so I went along. I was surprised at how gently I was handled. I was told that I had twisted my leg somehow. I remembered that one day several weeks before the trouble started I had jumped up quickly from my rather low lounge chair. I had a twinge in my hip for a while then I forgot about it.

Anyway, my leg and hip were worked on and I was assured that nothing had to be ‘clicked’, especially at my age. In three treatments I was so much better that I could get to sleep without pain. I have so many things I want to do at my age. I am glad that the pain does not interfere with my bowls now.

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