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Sciatica & Chiropractic Care

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

What Causes Sciatica? Sciatica is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in your body. It runs from your lower spine, through your buttocks, and into your leg and foot. When the sciatic nerve is inflamed, it can cause numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in your lower back and leg.

Inflamed Joint: If a bone (vertebra) in your lower back isn't moving properly or is out of position, the joint can become inflamed and irritate the sciatic nerve.

Bulging Disc: If one of the cushions (discs) between your vertebrae is bulging, it can irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Muscle Spasm: If a muscle in your lower back or buttock is inflamed or tightening (in spasm), it can also irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Disc problems:

People with back problems often talk about having a 'slipped disc'. However, disc problems are uncommon and are never the result of a disc slipping. Usually, the disc has torn or become distorted (prolapsed or herniated), so it presses against sensitive nerves from the spinal cord.


Sciatica is the name given to pains running down the leg because the sciatic nerve from the spinal cord has been pinched or irritated by damage to the back - sometimes by a prolapsed disc pressing on it.

Pinched nerve:

When a patient has a symptomatic herniated disc, it is not the disc space itself that hurts, but rather the disc herniation is pinching a nerve in the spine. This produces pain that is called radicular pain (e.g., nerve root pain, or sciatica from a lumbar herniated disc, or arm pain from a cervical herniated disc).

Those suffering from sciatica are often in their 40s and 50s. It usually begins as an acute pain in the lower back and then extends down the back of either leg. The pain usually worsens with long periods of sitting or standing.

Like a large river created by smaller streams, five pairs of nerves exit the spine in the lower back to form the two sciatic nerves. The soft, pulpy disc between each spinal bone is often involved. While a disc can't "slip", it can bulge, herniate or rupture. This can put direct pressure on the nearby nerves. The result? Swelling. Inflammation. Pain when coughing, sneezing or with others kinds of movement.

Sciatica often worsens with extended bed rest. Pain pills or muscle relaxers are unable to correct the nerve compression caused by the bulging disc. Physical therapy merely works the area to increase your tolerance to pain. Surgery often involves cutting away disc tissue or removing bone to make room for the nerve.

Fortunately, sciatica often responds to safe, natural chiropractic care.

Improving joint motion with a series of chiropractic adjustments has produced results for millions. "Before" and "after" images of the lower back often show improved disc height and spacing. Many patients report that they can resume their lives and that their symptoms disappear. Without resorting to drugs or surgery. Your chiropractic doctor is uniquely skilled to evaluate and reduce the most common cause of sciatica nerve pain. It's the natural approach to relief and better health. There is hope!

How do you get sciatica?

It's easy to trace some spinal problems to an event, such as a car accident. Yet, sciatica is often the result of cumulative damage. Years of bad posture, poor muscle tone, excess weight or countless other causes set the stage. Then, something simple like bending over to tie your shoes can trigger an episode.

Can anything else cause sciatica?

Spinal decay can be another culprit. Instead of disc thinning that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve roots, arthritic bone spurs can intrude into the space normally reserved for the nerve.

Can chiropractic cure sciatica?

The chiropractic approach to sciatica (and other health problems) is to help restore the way your spine works, reducing nerve irritation and revitalizing your own healing ability.

How long will I need chiropractic care?

Most sciatica patients are delighted with the results they get after weeks or months of care. Naturally, this varies from patient to patient. After a relapse or two, many discover that years of neglect have produced spinal instabilities that never fully heal. These patients elect to continue with periodic chiropractic check-ups. It's up to you.

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