Can Chiropractic Help with Sciatica?

It has been noted that 80% of the population at one point or another will experience lower back pain. That’s a lot of people dealing and struggling with a very painful and at times debilitating condition. A percentage of these people will also experience a condition called sciatica. Many times, someone will have low back pain for a period of time, sometimes short and sometimes longer but these particular patients then experience an incredibly strong and uncomfortable nerve pain which is the sciatic nerve being interfered with. There are a few things to understand when dealing with sciatica, one where does this nerve exist in our body? two what causes it to be interfered with and ultimately deliver pain? and third how does chiropractic treatment help and resolve sciatica?

                It’s important that you understand where the sciatic nerve lies in your body. This nerve is the largest nerve in your body and its roots start in the lumbar spine (lower back) and sacrum (tailbone). The specific nerve roots involved in making up the sciatic nerve are L4-S3. These nerve roots extend out and branch together to form a sciatic nerve down both the right and left legs. These giant nerves when squeezed or pinched create pain signals that can be felt in the back of the thigh, behind the knee or even all the way down to the ankle. Since this nerve is so long it not only effects the patient with pain but also can create muscle weakness in the hamstring, calf and foot muscles. So, when a patient comes to the office with these symptoms it’s important to take action fast and determine what is causing the interference of the left/right or both sciatic nerves.

                To determine where the source of the problem is there are typically three main areas to look at. The first would be the lumbar disc(s) which is the culprit of the majority of sciatica patients. When the lumbar disc or discs begin to move out of their anatomical position which is called a herniation (refer to my article on herniated discs), whether the disc is bulging or its starting to extrude this herniation puts pressure on the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve and deliver a pain signal, which could be sharp, stabbing, burning, achy, pins and needles or just numbness. So, in this case the disc is the problem and we need to correct it and move it back into its normal position within the spinal column. The second type of interference on the sciatic nerve could be what’s called the piriformis muscle. This muscle is tiny like the size of a large band-aid but it lies right over where the nerve passes through. The piriformis muscle is in the middle of the buttock muscle (gluteus maximus) and if it is strained from an injury or simply too tight from overuse then depending on the position of your leg(s) it squeezes the nerve creating pressure on it which in turn delivers those pain signals. The last is when your spinal joints are misaligned and have moved out of their proper position, also called a subluxation. One of the joints is the sacral-iliac region of the pelvis. This is a large joint that is activated when we sit to stand or bend our leg to walk or climb stairs. Since some of the nerve roots from the sciatic nerve come from the sacral region of the spine when this joint moves if it is out of place it can put a lot of pressure on the nerve or simply over stretch the nerve both of which will signal pain. The lower lumbar vertebrae (lower back bones) can also misalign and put the same kind of pressure on the nerve roots which will have the same painful effect on the patient.

                Chiropractic has been treating patients with sciatica for a very long time with great results. The essence of the chiropractic adjustment is to decompress, stretch out and properly reset a misaligned joint. Because of these reactions to the adjustment chiropractic has success treating a patient with sciatica. At the core of a patient’s treatment is the adjustment as mentioned which will over time decompress the area being interfered with and reposition the joint(s) to their proper anatomical position taking pressure off of the nerve roots. The adjustment also helps to stretch out the surrounding soft tissues but there are also specific techniques that chiropractors will use as well to release these tissues like the tightened piriformis muscle. When patients go through a treatment protocol and start to feel better as their symptoms resolve and the area is corrected they should also be instructed on what types of stretches and exercises to do in the office and at home to stabilize, strengthen and prevent this injury from happening again.

If your daily life is being interrupted because of sciatica or other nerve pain, then contact us today at 267-614-3725 and click the link for a FREE consult.