Looking for the Best Treatment for Sciatica? See a Chiropractor!
Pain down the back of your leg could be a sign of sciatica, and the best treatment for sciatca—chiropractic care—may surprise you.
The Best Treatment for Sciatica Usually Doesn’t Include Surgery
If you have pain, numbness, or tingling down the back of your leg, sciatica could be the cause.
You would probably do anything to make it go away when the pain is at its worst.
Fortunately, the best treatment for sciatica is as close as your chiropractor’s office. Surgery is not usually needed.
Before we get into treatment, let’s look at how sciatica happens.
What is the Sciatic Nerve?
The sciatic nerve is your body’s largest nerve. It forms from the nerve “roots” of the lower back. The sciatic nerve runs down your buttock. It then goes down your thigh and calf, and all the way to your toes.
Irritation of one of the two main nerve roots causes sciatica. Pressure against a sensitive nerve is a common source of nerve irritation.
Your symptoms will depend on which nerve root is affected. Pain on the back of your leg, back of the calf, down to the side and bottom of your foot will result if one nerve root is irritated.
Pain will be felt elsewhere, however, if a nerve root one level up on the spine is irritated. Your pain and numbness will then run down the side of your thigh. It will reach into the front of the shin and into the top of the foot.
More pressure on the nerve means pain farther down the leg. In some cases, the nerve is compressed, a more serious problem. Compression of the nerve can cause weakness.
In the past, doctors urged surgery right away for weakness with sciatica. Today, weakness is treated without surgery. In fact, the best treatment for sciatica does not call for invasive measures in most cases.
Role of Herniated Disc in Sciatica
Have you been told you have a herniated disc? A herniated disc is a common cause of pressure on nerve roots.
Discs provide cushioning between the small bones in your spine, called vertebrae. If a disc cracks or tears, however, it can push against the nerve root. Fluid leaking from the disc can also irritate the nerve root.
Most Common Symptoms of Sciatica
Symptoms vary from person to person. Constant pain is common, but you may have pain that comes and goes. Other symptoms include:
- Shooting pain
- Mild pain
- Extreme pain
- Sharp pain that makes it hard to stand or walk
- Pain that gets worse when you sit down
- A pins-and-needles feeling
- Weakness or numbness
The best treatment for sciatica relieves these symptoms. As a result, you can enjoy a more active life.
Home care may ease your pain somewhat before you see a doctor. Heat often offers relief. Another option is alternating ice therapy with heat therapy.
How Does the Medical Model Treat Sciatica?
A number of sciatica treatments are available. Chiropractic care and traditional medical treatment take different approaches, however. Learning about both help you choose the best treatment for sciatica.
Referral to an orthopedic surgeon is common when you seek traditional medical care.
Sciatica rarely requires surgery, however.
Other common treatments include:
- Prescriptions for medication to reduce pain and inflammation
- An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to get a closer look
- Physical therapy
- One of more injections of cortisone (a steroid) near the disc and sciatic nerve
Pain medication will temporarily decrease pain, and anti-inflammatory medication will temporarily decrease inflammation. Medications do not decrease pressure on the disc or sciatic nerve, however.
Steroid injections vary in their level of pain relief and in how long the pain relief lasts.
Is this the kind of care you want? Are you looking for a better way? Keep reading.
How Does Chiropractic Care Treat Sciatica?
Chiropractic care is the best treatment for sciatica for several reasons. Unlike traditional medicine, treatments that do not use pain medication or surgery are emphasized.
Chiropractic care succeeds where other types of care fall short. An array of techniques help ease your pain and other symptoms.
Cox Technic Adjustment
One gentle adjustment method to treat sciatica is the Cox Technic. The treatment decompresses spinal nerves, easing disc pressure.
Research in the European Spine Journal compared physical therapy with the Cox Technic. Researchers reported “significantly greater relief from pain” with the Cox Technic. Those with leg pain and numbness “did significantly better with the Cox Technic.” Also, it “provided more relief than physical therapy.” One year later, patients had “significantly lower pain scores than subjects who received physical therapy.”
Topics in Clinical Chiropractic reported that 91% of 1,000 patients treated with the Cox found the relief they were looking for within 90 days.
These chiropractic techniques also treat sciatica:
- Spinal manipulation
- Distraction modalities
- Massage therapy
- Laser and whole-body standing vibration
Chiropractic office visits begin with a detailed examination. The doctor may order X-rays and any necessary diagnostic testing. Common tests include MRIs and EMGs.
What if chiropractic care cannot treat you? You will be referred you to someone who can help.
Support for Chiropractic Care
The chiropractic approach is popular. Consumer Reports surveyed 3,562 back-pain sufferers. More than 80% said they were satisfied with their chiropractic care.
Mayo Clinic’s website states that “Chiropractic adjustment is safe when it’s performed by someone trained and licensed to deliver chiropractic care.”
Safety is a top concern for professional athletes and celebrities. Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Sylvester Stallone, Ted Danson, Demi Moore, David Spade and many, many others choose chiropractic care.
Is chiropractic care the best treatment for sciatica? Faster relief, longer-lasting relief, and a high level of patient satisfaction are reasons to consider chiropractic care.
Choose the Best Treatment for Sciatica!
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published on October 19, 2016 and was updated on June 5, 2019.