If you are experiencing back and leg pain it is important for you to have an accurate diagnosis to determine the proper treatment. This article will help you understand why chiropractic care may help you.

What Causes Sciatica and Lower Back Pain?

Sciatica is related to a pinched nerve or a constricted spinal cord from misalignment, disc degeneration, disc rupture/bulges, spondylosisthesis (forward slip of a vertebra), or spinal stenosis (arthritis and narrowing of the nerve openings). The accurate diagnosis of your problem can quickly be achieved by spinal imaging studies.

Once You Have an Accurate Diagnosis, What are Your Treatment Options for Sciatica?

  1. Medical doctors. Family doctors typically prescribe medications for pain and spasm, but drug therapy does not address the cause of the problem.
  2. Pain management doctors. Pain management doctors will usually give you a shot of cortisone to help reduce inflammation. Epidural steroid shots may relieve the problem for a short time, but, according to spine research, these shots are usually ineffective in the long term.
  3. Physical therapy. While muscular stabilization and strengthening may be helpful for the prevention of back pain, exercise may be contraindicated in the beginning of treatment. Therapists are unable to order imaging studies, and they are not trained in the correction of spinal misalignment.
  4. Surgery. Many spine surgeons tell a patient to do the most conservative treatment first; including chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, and acupuncture. Surgery is always a last resort because there are so many possible complications.

Chiropractic Treatment

According to a 2008 study by Glove and Hawk on low back pain disorders, it was reported that most acute lower back pain responds to a short treatment of chiropractic care. Delayed or inadequate early clinical management may result in increased chronicity and disability.”

A 2005 study by DeVocht and Wilder concluded that “87 percent of chiropractic patients exhibited decreased muscle spasm following treatment.” A recent federal study recommended that “lower back pain sufferers (should) choose the most conservative treatment first. And, it is recommended that spinal manipulations (adjustments) are the only safe treatment for lower back pain.”

Most patients do not need a surgical consult before they are treated by a chiropractor. It was recently reported by Jordah and O’Dowd (2009) that 95 percent of disc hernications occur in the lower back. A study by Murphy, Hurwitz and McGovern (2009) stated that “nearly 90 percent of all patients that underwent chiropractic noticed an excellent improvement in pain intensity following treatment.”

My Advice:

Chiropractic treatment is unique in the treatment of back pain associated with sciatica. Most sciatic complaints are related to structural problems; misalignment, disc degeneration, and spondylosis (spinal joint arthritis). Doctors of chiropractic specialize in the treatment of spinal problems related to spinal bio-mechanics. If you are serious about eliminating back and leg pain, include an excellent chiropractor on your health team.

Dr. Brue is an author, lecturer and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke, AZ. For more information, go to

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