Does Chiropractic Help Sciatica? If So, When and How?
Sciatica is a highly common health issue that affects nearly 40% of people at some point in their lifetime. Chiropractic care for sciatica is becoming increasingly popular for those looking for drug-free, cost-effective solutions.
Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain is characterized by a shooting pain that begins in the lower back (lumbar spine) and travels along the sciatic nerve into the legs and even the feet.
Symptoms of sciatica may include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain or numbness in the legs
- Buttock pain
- Hip pain
- Feet pain
- Neck pain
You can learn more in our previous post on causes and symptoms of sciatica.
In most cases, sciatica pain will resolve in a few weeks or less with proper treatment. However, about 20-30% of individuals with sciatica experience recurring symptoms after one to two years. And if left untreated, sciatica may lead to chronic pain and numbness along the areas of the nerve. Severe numbness in the legs from sciatica can be dangerous and should immediately be reported to a healthcare professional.
Seeking treatment for your sciatica? Things are going to get personal.
Effective sciatica treatments are highly individualized — no one-size-fits-all plan will do the trick. More conservative options include moderate exercise and OTC pain relievers. More rare and severe sciatica cases may require surgery.
These at-home remedies are designed to provide relief from sciatic pain, but if you are looking to fix the cause of the sciatica or you aren’t experiencing relief from these at-home strategies you may need to seek help from a healthcare professional.
The good news? Chiropractic care is a highly effective, affordable way to help your sciatica.
More and more people are seeking drug-free chiropractic care for sciatica, and multiple studies show that seeking a chiropractor for sciatic nerve pain has big-time benefits.
For anyone that has sciatica, the most desired outcome is obviously a reduction in pain. Nine out of 10 people with the symptoms of sciatica have a herniated disc and accompanying hip pain, lower back pain, and other pain along the sciatic nerve. Luckily, chiropractors are experts in treating herniated or slipped/bulging discs. They can help reduce inflammation that causes sciatica pain.
Case Study on Chiropractic and Sciatica
If you’re someone who loves to do your research, you’ll want to check out this case study on chiropractic and sciatica conducted in 2006 at the Università di Roma La Sapienza.
In the double-blind experiment, subjects included 64 men and 38 women between the ages of 19 and 63. Each had MRI evidence of disc protrusion or herniated disc. All had accompanying sciatic nerve pain. About half were given a maximum of 30 chiropractic adjustments over a 30-day period, while the other group received simulated adjustments (aka the control group).
28% of participants who received chiropractic adjustments reported being pain free at the end of the study with zero sciatic nerve pain. Over half (55%) reported no further sciatica symptoms. There was also a substantial decrease in NSAID usage among the individuals who received chiropractic care for sciatica.
Examples of sciatica patients helped by chiropractic care
Thirsty for more?
Internet testimonials aside, multiple scientific inquiries into sciatica and chiropractic care show that visiting a chiropractor may greatly improve your sciatic nerve pain symptoms. Here are other case studies on chiropractic and sciatica with promising results:
Manipulation or Microdiskectomy for Sciatica? A Prospective Randomized Clinical Study In this Canadian study, a whopping 60% of patients with sciatica benefitted from chiropractic adjustments to the same degree as if they had surgical intervention for their sciatica symptoms. The author also appropriately points out the stark economic implications — chiropractic care for sciatica is substantially more affordable than invasive surgery.
Conservative management of a 31 year old male with left sided low back and leg pain: a case report In this case study published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, a man with sciatic pain in the leg and lower back was able to lower his pain level and improve his mobility with comprehensive chiropractic care for sciatica. Again, the author recommends going rehabilitative treatments before considering major surgery for sciatica.
How can a chiropractor help sciatica?
Chiropractors offer what’s called spinal manipulation, or you might know it as an adjustment. In this physical treatment, the chiropractor uses his or her hands to ‘adjust’ the alignment of the spine. Manual manipulation or adjustment by a licensed chiropractor is an excellent sciatica treatment option since it directly addresses the most common cause — herniated disc or slipped disc.
Individuals with spinal stenosis can also benefit from chiropractic treatment for their sciatic nerve pain. Remember, a good chiropractor will adjust (pun intended) your treatment plan according to the underlying cause of your sciatica, your symptoms, and your medical history.
Again, these treatment plans are tailored to the individual. What works for your neighbor or commentators on the internet may not work for you. The initial consultation with your chiropractor is a great jump-off point on your road to recovery. Your diagnosis of sciatica will determine your course of treatment.
Is chiropractic adjustment painful?
An adept and experienced chiropractor will be able to pinpoint the cause of sciatica and may recommend manual manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to treat sciatic nerve pain. The process is not painful and will create an optimal environment, so the cause of sciatica is able to resolve. Many sciatica sufferers see dramatic improvement with just a few adjustments, while others may require further treatment, as in some of the case studies.
Chiropractic treatments for sciatica are highly effective. By realigning the spine properly, pressure on the sciatic nerve is released. The result is less pain and quicker recovery time.
If you have a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or severe hip pain, you may not recover from more conservative treatments for sciatica. Chiropractic care can give you the edge you need to banish your sciatic nerve pain symptoms for good.
Chiropractic treatment for sciatica
Your chiropractor may utilize one or more of the following treatments to address your sciatica symptoms:
- Adjustments (spinal manipulations)
- Cold/ice therapy
- Massage/body work
- Ultrasound therapy
Now that you’ve seen the case studies on chiropractic and sciatica and the multiple examples of sciatica patients helped by chiropractic care, it’s time to make an appointment if you’re in the Austin or Bee Cave area. No matter the severity of your sciatica symptoms, consulting with a chiropractor or other healthcare professional is always a good idea to make sure your pain doesn’t get worse. Armed with the solid evidence that chiropractic care can help sciatica, you can feel empowered to take control of your health.
Want to learn more about sciatic nerve pain? We put together a huge resource on everything you need to know about sciatica.