Can A Chiropractor Help With Sciatica?

Chiropractors are, for good reason, most often associated with pain related to joints and bone alignment. They're not the sort of specialist that a person dealing with sciatica would turn to, as sciatica is a condition that affects nerves, rather than the joints or bones. The Mayo Clinic describes sciatica as a radiating pain that follows the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from the lower back down into the legs. When sciatica develops, it is usually because this nerve is being affected by a herniated disc or another spine-related issue, resulting in pain that typically affects one side of the body or the other.

There are several treatment options available for those living with sciatica. A 2007 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlighted that most treatment options are centered on dealing with pain, rather than stopping sciatica at its source. These options include over-the-counter painkillers and a variety of stretches. The Harvard Medical School adds that an array of home remedies exist, using a mixture of heat, cold, and stretching.

Only in severe cases, as noted in the BMJ, is surgery used to try and remove the suspected cause of sciatica. These procedures are usually meant to remove a disc that is pinching the sciatic nerve or a bone spur that is affecting it (via the Mayo Clinic). A visit to the chiropractor is something between surgery and a home remedy, but does it work?

Treatment depends on the patient

The Mayo Clinic states that surgical intervention is usually reserved for cases where sciatica causes someone to lose bowel or bladder control, results in extreme weakness, or when nothing else helps the pain. Getting to that point requires extended periods of pain, discomfort, and restless exhaustion. When other milder remedies fail, waiting to hit the threshold for surgery can seem unbearable.

At this point, people may be willing to try anything. As it turns out, a trip to the chiropractor might just be the solution they need. The American Chiropractic Center outlines multiple ways that chiropractors can help relieve sciatica pain. In some instances, they can apply certain home remedies like physical therapy, heat, and cold better than the average person because they are trained professionals. In other cases, they may be able to work with the spine and ease pressure on the sciatic nerve by maneuvering herniated discs.

The association does not claim that chiropractors can cure sciatica. Additionally, it states that a patient's medical history must be reviewed prior to treatment to ensure that the chiropractor can help. However, when the choice is between a visit to the chiropractor and living with sciatica until surgery becomes a viable option, it is a chance worth taking.