Chiropractic Treatment for Sciatica

Sciatica is a painful condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve, the body’s largest nerve, is inflamed. The sciatic nerve is an extremely complex nerve that stretches from the bottom of the spinal cord through the pelvis, buttocks, hips, legs and feet.

Often sciatica is brought on by a sudden event - such as an automobile accident. However, cumulative damage resulting from other causes that can include excess weight and incorrect posture can also cause sciatica.

More specifically, the most common cause of sciatica occurs when a ruptured or bulging disk (herniated disk) in the spinal cord presses on the nerve roots that lead to the sciatic nerve. However, abnormalities in the vertebrae such as narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), bone spurs brought on by arthritis, tumors, and even pregnancy can also put stress on the sciatic nerve.


Unfortunately, the sciatic nerve pain varies tremendously from person to person. Usually, sciatic nerve pain is only felt on one side of the body. Also, a person may feel numb in certain areas of the body, but feel a sharp pain in other areas that can include a hip or a leg.

That said, sciatica can also be felt as a mild tingling sensation or even as a burning sensation. Further, in some cases, the back pain or leg pain can be so severe that it can render an individual immobile.

The sciatic nerve pain usually lasts for about six weeks, but this nerve pain can worsen when a person stands for a long period of time, walks longer than 50-100 yards, performs knee to chest exercises - or even when lying down. The sciatic nerve pain can also worsen at nighttime or after a person laughs, coughs or sneezes.

However, chiropractors can help ease the back pain, leg pain and other nerve pain that stems from sciatica by helping the body heal itself - in a manner that is drug free and non-invasive.


In order to determine the exact cause and severity of sciatica in an individual, a chiropractor will review the medical history of a patient and perform an examination.

A chiropractor may also employ diagnostic tools that can include x-rays, electro diagnostic tests, CT scans and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

Chiropractic Treatment

Depending on the cause of sciatica, chiropractors will employ one or some of the following treatments that can include:

Spinal Adjustments

Since the sciatic nerve pain occurs when there is pressure from the vertebrae on the sciatic nerve, chiropractors can help to relieve this pressure and realign the vertebraes to their proper place – freeing the previous restricted movement of the spinal column.

Cold/Ice Therapy

Some chiropractors will use ice on the affected areas. This treatment can help to reduce the back pain, leg pain or other sciatic nerve pain by reducing the inflammation.

TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

Some chiropractors employ electrical nerve stimulation techniques or a TENS unit to reduce severe sciatic nerve pain and muscle spasms. Physical therapists and other medical professionals also use this muscle-stimulating device.


Other chiropractors also employ the use of ultrasound equipment in the rehabilitation process. Ultrasound produces sound waves, which in turn creates a soothing heat that penetrates the body’s tissues. Since ultrasound treatment does increase the circulation in the body, it is effective at reducing sciatic nerve pain, muscle pains, swelling and more.

Overall, spinal manipulation and other chiropractic treatments can help individuals suffering from sciatic nerve pain.

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