Sciatica

What is Sciatica?

  • Sciatica is a term used to describe irritation of the sciatic nerve, the widest and longest nerve in the human body.
  • The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back, formed by several nerve roots as they exit the spine.
  • Once formed, the sciatic nerve runs through the buttock and down the back of the leg, eventually branching off into smaller nerves that supply most of the leg, ankle and foot.

 

 

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica can have a variety of causes, including:

  • Disc herniation/bulging
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spinal misalignment (Subluxation)
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Diabetes
  • Tumors
  • Nutritional deficiencies/toxicities

How do I know if I have sciatica?

  • You may find that your pain follows the distribution of the nerve – down the back of the leg, into the calf and perhaps even into your feet and toes.
  • Numbness and tingling, burning sensations, weakness of the leg and shooting pains are all also common to sciatic nerve irritation.
  • Pain may be sharp at times and disrupt normal daily activities such as sleeping, walking and driving.

 

How do chiropractors help with sciatica?

  • Your chiropractor will first perform a thorough health history and physical examination to determine the source of your sciatic nerve problem.
  • Subluxations (misalignments of the bones of your spine that result in nerve pressure) are often the cause of sciatic nerve pain.
  • Chiropractors specialise in detecting and correcting subluxations (with spinal adjustments). This relieves pressure on your nervous system, providing relief of sciatic pain.

 

The vertebral subluxation and sciatica

  • Research has demonstrated that subluxations in your spine can induce inflammation and irritate the nerve roots exiting the spine which eventually form the sciatic nerve.
  • Studies have also shown that nerve roots can be stimulated through motion of the vertebrae during a chiropractic adjustment.
  • Research shows the effectiveness of chiropractic care on sciatica, with patients reporting greater relief of pain, fewer pain days during recovery, quicker return to work and fewer drugs needed compared to those going without chiropractic.

 

Always conservative before invasive

  • After considering the safe and effective nature of chiropractic and the risks associated with drugs and surgery, it makes a lot of sense that nearly all patients should complete a course of conservative care before considering more invasive means.
  • In fact, one study showed that most patients benefited from spinal correction to the same degree as if they underwent surgery.
  • More invasive medical care has its place in some situations; your chiropractor can help advise you on your specific situation.

 

 

 

references
Barge, F. H. (1995). The chiropractic vertebral subluxation and its relationship to vertebrogenic lumbar pain, cruralgia and sciatic syndromes. Chiropractic Research Journal3(2), 25-39.
Bejia, I., Younes, M., Zrour, S., Touzi, M., & Bergaoui, N. (2004). Factors predicting outcomes of mechanical sciatica: a review of 1092 cases. Joint Bone Spine71(6), 567-571.
Bergmann, T. F., & Jongeward, B. V. (1998). Manipulative therapy in lower back pain with leg pain and neurological deficit. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics21(4), 288.
Colloca, C. J., Keller, T. S., & Gunzburg, R. (2004). Biomechanical and neurophysiological responses to spinal manipulation in patients with lumbar radiculopathy. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics27(1), 1-15.
Cox, J. M., & Shreiner, S. (1984). Chiropractic manipulation in low back pain and sciatica: statistical data on the diagnosis, treatment and response of 576 consecutive cases. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics7(1), 1.
Kirkaldy-Willis, W. H., & Cassidy, J. D. (1985). Spinal manipulation in the treatment of low-back pain. Canadian Family Physician31, 535.
Maxwell, T. D. (1978). The piriformis muscle and its relation to the long legged sciatic syndrome. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association22(2), 51.
McMorland, G., Suter, E., Casha, S., du Plessis, S. J., & Hurlbert, R. J. (2010). Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics33(8), 576-584.
Orlin, J. R., & Didriksen, A. (2007). Results of chiropractic treatment of lumbopelvic fixation in 44 patients admitted to an orthopedic department.Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics30(2), 135-139.
Saal, J. A. (1996). [black small square] Natural History and Nonoperative Treatment of Lumbar Disc Herniation. Spine21(24S), 2S-9S.
Santilli, V., Beghi, E., & Finucci, S. (2006). Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. The Spine Journal6(2), 131-137.
Stern, P. J., Cote, P., & Cassidy, J. D. (1995). A series of consecutive cases of low back pain with radiating leg pain treated by chiropractors. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics18(6), 335.
Tachihara, H., Kikuchi, S. I., Konno, S. I., & Sekiguchi, M. (2007). Does facet joint inflammation induce radiculopathy?: an investigation using a rat model of lumbar facet joint inflammation. Spine32(4), 406-412
Vroomen, P. C., de Krom, M. C., Wilmink, J. T., Kester, A. D., & Knottnerus, J. A. (1999). Lack of effectiveness of bed rest for sciatica. New England journal of medicine340(6), 418-423.

A Healthy Back for Life

Essential everyday tips
Download PDF