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Can a Chiropractor Help with Sciatica?

A man deals with sciatic nerve pain
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We Explain If and How Chiropractic Helps Sciatica

Are you one of the millions of Americans suffering from low back pain or sciatic nerve pain?

You’re not alone. Not by a long shot.

Sciatica is a musculoskeletal disorder so common, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has an entire operation dedicated to sciatica prevention.

Sciatica is characterized by shooting pain that begins in the lower spine and travels along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, beginning at the lumbar spine and ending in the feet. Symptoms of sciatica are painful and go beyond back pain. Muscle spasms, leg pain, and other issues can make life uncomfortable or even unbearable. And with rising prescription costs and ineffective treatments, more and more people are gravitating toward natural, drug-free solutions to treat sciatica.

One of those solutions is chiropractic care. But does it work for sciatica? And how well?

With healthcare costs on the rise, savvy Americans with chronic back pain are utilizing their chiropractors as an affordable point of entry into the system. You do not need a referral to see a chiropractor, and many offer sciatica treatment plans that are covered by insurance. Currently, back pain (including sciatica) costs Americans upward of $65 billion each year

Getting chiropractic treatment for your sciatic nerve pain can help you avoid costly prescriptions, not to mention scary side effects. If you suspect you may have sciatica, consulting a chiropractor is one of the best decisions you can make. But, not all chiropractors are equal. Some focus on different treatment methods, with varying degrees of success.

In this post, we explore  how and when chiropractic helps sciatica and how to find a great chiropractor.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Sciatica

Chiropractors are experts in the musculoskeletal system and know how to properly diagnose and treat most issues involving the spinal column. Many chiropractors even specialize in sciatic nerve pain relief (see “What to look for in a Chiropractor” below). Chiropractic is a beneficial treatment route for the following reasons:

  • Safe and effective
  • Often covered by insurance
  • No referral needed
  • Drug-free

But again, you want to find the chiropractor with the right treatment techniques to maximize your results.

Sciatica Chiropractic Treatment Techniques

Chiropractors traditionally do not prescribe medication. In fact, this is one of the major reasons why they are sought out by chronic back pain sufferers. Millions are fed up with the common healthcare system, costly prescriptions, and quick fixes that don’t provide long-term relief. Doctors of chiropractic are not in the medication business, but rather use a “prescription” of treatments to address the underlying causes of sciatica. These treatments include:

  • Spinal adjustments – Spinal adjustments or spinal manipulations are a common part of chiropractic treatment for sciatica. Since the #1 cause of sciatica is a herniated or ruptured disc, spinal adjustments are a great option to realign the vertebrae and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Stretches and exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory diet
  • Referrals to nutritionists or acupuncturists if necessary

There is no one-size-fits-all chiropractic treatment plan for sciatica. But certain approaches and treatments consistently work better than others. Be sure to voice your concerns about timeline and cost to your chiropractor, so you know what to expect. What works for some may not work for you, but if you find the right chiropractor, you’ll be in good hands.

And be sure to ask whether they use the above techniques. 

Finding the Right Chiropractor

A chiropractor talks to a sciatica sufferer

Are you still wondering —

Does chiropractic help sciatica?

The science says yes, chiropractic can help sciatica! (If you find a chiropractor who practices corrective techniques and utilizes complementary modalities!) But personal testimonials often provide even more moving evidence. 

Be advised — from here, you need to put on your detective cap. You can still find a phenomenal chiropractor online, but you need to know what to look for.

By far and away, the best way to find a great chiropractor is to ask around. Referrals are always the way to go. Ask your doctor! If you don’t want to spend the time or money on a doctor visit, ask a friend, coworker, or family member to recommend a chiropractor. But be sure to ask why they like the person. Is it personality? Or is it that they drastically improved symptoms?

If you’re not getting anywhere with these conversations, try Googling ‘chiropractor near me’. Read the reviews and look for people describing long-term improvements in sciatica symptoms.

What to Look for in a Chiropractor

Whether you get referred by a friend or you’re Googling to find a chiropractor near you, knowing what to look for can empower you to make the right choice. Check out the list below of a few things to focus on when vetting your new chiropractor. It’s imperative that you trust your healthcare providers, so if you cannot verify the following information yourself, call and ask! And trust your gut. 

Here is what to look for in a chiropractor for sciatica:

Education and Certification

No matter what, you need to be 100% sure the chiropractor in question is adequately educated and certified. To be a chiropractor in the US, one must attend a comprehensive four-year graduate program. In case you’re wondering, these are the top 10 chiropractic schools in America in 2019. And if you don’t see their diploma somewhere in their office, definitely raise the question.

As far as certifications go, the requirements for chiropractic certification vary from state to state. However, all US chiropractors must have a license to practice and must pass all four portions of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam. Make sure your chiropractor is fully licensed and certified at both the national and state level.

Focus/Specialty

Since you’re concerned about sciatica, check to see if the chiropractor specializes in sciatica treatment. There are many bodily systems and many pain and musculoskeletal disorders. As a result, many chiropractors specialize. 

You may be able to find out by looking at their website, but when in doubt, pick up the phone. 

Plus, many chiropractors treat other conditions besides sciatica and back pain. Find out what their specialties are, and you can potentially get help for other health issues like:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Mobility issues
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Weak immunity

Interpersonal Skills 

This is a tough one, since you won’t truly know a chiropractor’s interpersonal skills until you meet them in person. If referred by a friend or doctor, inquire about this BUT don’t let it cloud your judgment. Results are what matters most. Quality relationships with care providers can make a big difference, and everyone has their own preferences as to how they want to be treated in a healthcare setting. If searching for a chiropractor online, look for patient testimonials or reviews on sites like Angie’s List.

Does chiropractic treatment work for sciatica? 

In short, yes! Studies on chiropractic for sciatica prove it can be highly effective at minimizing sciatic pain. Chiropractic care for sciatica can also accelerate your healing time. Time is precious, so if you’re suffering from sciatica symptoms, be proactive. 

Use this information to empower your decisions and get on the road to recovery.

Want to learn more about sciatic nerve pain? We put together a huge resource on everything you need to know about sciatica.

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