Sciatica is generally caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic treatment for sciatica can help relieve this pressure by realigning the vertebrae, which frees the spinal column’s restricted movement.
Chiropractic is about treating underlying cause of dis-ease in your body. As B. J. Palmer used to say, chiropractic is a great tool for helping keeping healthy people healthy, and getting a sick person well. And it from that stand point that we’re going to examine one of the most common things that brings people into our office — sciatic neuritis, or sciatica.
Sciatica is characterized by pain traveling down the leg, usually the back side of the leg. Everyone has two sciatic nerves… they stem from the base of your spine, as well as the sacral segments of your spine, and come together in the buttock area of your hip region in the area of the piriformis muscle. Your sciatic nerve is as big of round as you manager middle finger, so it is actually quite large. All of the nerve roots come together as one in this region and travel all the way down the leg, through the calf, into the foot, sometimes even in the shin.
So what causes sciatica, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve? From a chiropractic standpoint, there are a few usual suspects: those being the lower back vertebrae, especially L4, L5, and the sacral segments. If there is interference or disk pressure here, you’ll get inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
This is because the disks of the spine are in close proximity to the nerves, so our job is to get motion back into the spine so that these nerve channels are open. In chronic conditions, you can even get bulging or herniation of a disk. Bulging is a bubbling out of the disk causing pressure on the nerve; herniation is actual breakage of the disk, which is a more complicate issue.
The key thing with chiropractic is getting the function of the body back in charge.
To do this we will use gentle techniques if there is indication of subluxation in the lower back to adjust the lower back area.
Very often there is involvement in the upper cervical area – the neck. People often ask, “Why are you working on my neck if my lower back is where the pain is?” To answer this, liken the 24 vertebrae of your spine to the circuit panel in your house. The top two vertebrae in your neck are like 100 amp breakers – they set the tone for all the musculature in your body. If you have torqued misalignment in your neck, it’s like having a fishing reel in your neck, with the fish line being your spinal cord, and the hook being set at the base of your spine where the sciatic nerve originates. Tension in the neck puts your spinal cord under tremendous tension and until we release it, your lower back will never get well.
Another important reason to free up movement in the neck is that all the energy that travels through the spine has its origin in the brain, so if you cannot get the energy through the top two vertebrae in your neck, it’s like trying to get water at the end of a hose without turning the faucet on. The upper cervical area is the faucet, so we have to make sure we turn the power on by removing any blockages or subluxations.
Ninety-nine out of a hundred times, people are going to have cervical involvement as well as lower back involved, so the chiropractor approaches the problem by looking at it from both sides. In other words: looking at you as a whole person, not just give me a medication to change how your feeling. When you feel better with chiropractic it’s because you’re healing, rather than just taking something to cover up the symptoms.