How a Chiropractor Helps Sciatica Pain: What You Need to Know


How a Chiropractor Helps Sciatica Pain: What You Need to Know

Sharp and painful surprises are never fun. Feeling as though you just leaned back onto a knife is not an experience that most people wish to endure. However, this is sometimes what happens when the sciatic nerve begins to react to something that is unnatural. Healing can be a difficult process and is best handled under professional care.

The sciatic nerve is a part of the spinal cord and, thus, requires a trained hand to aid in proper and efficient healing. Understanding how the sciatic nerve responds to other parts of the body can make visiting a chiropractic physician that much more beneficial. So what is going on inside the body when sciatic pain erupts?

Basic Education on Sciatica

The spinal cord functions as an information highway between the brain and the rest of the body. Limbs and organs would not be able to function properly without regular communication running through this amazing pathway. When intense pain occurs, it easily overrides normal communications – usually for the sake of preserving the body.

With sciatic pain, the risk of great and immediate peril is generally not present. However, the nerves are warning the body that something is not quite right inside. What is it that is not working properly?

Sciatica pain occurs when nerves become compressed in some way. A number of lower back conditions may be found as the cause of such compression. Individuals who are suffering are often not aware that sciatica can be reduced or eliminated.

Conditions that may lead to sciatic pain:

What are the typical symptoms of sciatica? Sciatica often includes sharp pain, numbness, or burning and tingling sensations. Regular daily activities may become intense as individuals experience this sharp, shooting pain. A patient may sometimes experience a feeling of weakness down the leg. Pressure on the sciatic nerve may be greatly decreased or eliminated with the assistance of professional chiropractic care.

Where does sciatica occur in the body? The term sciatica refers to pain that travels along the sciatic nerve. This uniquely long nerve begins in the sacral plexus.

The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back. It then runs down the hip, buttock, thigh, knee, and calf, and goes into the foot. When pain is registered along this intricately designed transportation route through a lower extremity, it can affect daily activities in dramatic fashion.

Sciency Stuff on Sciatica

According to, the human spine carries 31 pairs of nerves. Five pairs of these are in the lumbar region and five are just below that area in the sacral region. Sciatica is often caused when a disc bulge occurs in the lumbar region, possibly reaching into the sacral region, usually at L4/L5 or L5/S1.

A disc bulge is when the interior of a disc begins to push out of its normal placement. When the shape of the inner disc changes it can press into the lumbar nerve roots, causing sciatica. This inflammatory response can cause sharp pain along the lower back and into the leg.

Piriformis syndrome is another known cause for sciatica. The sciatic nerve may become irritated due to the piriformis muscle contracting or spasming. When this happens, the nerve sheath surrounds the sciatic nerve causing the pain.

It is possible to have direct trauma to the gluteal muscles that may result in sciatica. It may also be something as simple as sitting on a wallet regularly or sitting for extended periods of time can result in a decreased flow of blood to the area. It may be that a patient has developed a tight piriformis muscle that is causing sciatic pain.

A physician may test for a lumbar disc bulge, piriformis syndrome, subluxation, and other personal factors that may be leading to sciatica. Orthopedic tests will be performed to determine how the sciatic nerve may react. Knowing how pain originates and how it is transferred throughout the body can serve very well in expediting the healing process. If more than one spinal condition is present, your physician will construct an approach that fosters your unique situation.

Treatment Options for Sciatica

What should I expect with treatment? Chiropractic care, rehabilitative therapy, and specific spinal movements can help improve or even eliminate sciatic conditions. Chiropractic treatment is designed to help the body heal itself. Non-invasive and drug-free, chiropractic care offers an organic alternative for sciatic pain.

Advanced cases of sciatica may result in muscle weakness or even a loss of sensation in the legs, if not properly treated. Effective treatment strategies for sciatic pain may include chiropractic care, rehabilitative care, and DRS treatment. (See below for more information on the DRS System.)

Core stabilization, spinal decompression, and working to decrease muscle tension may be included in a patient’s treatment plan. Mechanical and neurological causes should be determined and addressed with complete care. Individual treatment plans will vary depending on each patient’s specific needs.

Why Is Rehabilitation Therapy Important?

Physical rehabilitation works in two powerful ways for patients. It is used in the initial phases of care for healing – but it also helps with prevention. Sciatica is one of many ailments that may be treated with physical rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is designed to get individuals back into their regular way of life as quickly as possible.

Rehab is most often utilized as a recovery tool. Injury due to a car wreck, sports activity, or even a simple fall may require regular care sessions for actual healing to occur. Goals include reducing pain during recovery and improving mobility with efficiency.

Physical rehabilitation may also be used as preventative care against sciatica. Preventative sessions may include help avoiding workplace complications or with an exercise program. A patient’s daily events will also be taken into consideration during preventative care activities.

Posture, daily activities, and regular personal habits can all be affected by one another and may cause an increase in existing pain. If an injury is present, the pain may become worse due to improper movements. Whether it is desired to return to regular daily activities or intense athletic endeavors, therapy can play a key role in a patient’s recovery.

A comprehensive physical rehab program may include help with any of the following: posture improvement, daily activity adjustments, and custom exercises. Physical rehabilitation generally includes chiropractic care and massage therapy. These steps help maintain a patient’s long-term health and well-being.

Prevention and Maintenance

Why is prevention important once healing has occurred? Should I return to the chiropractor once pain has subsided? Sciatica symptoms may return, especially if proper and continued care is not given to the spine. Preventative care and maintenance are essential for ensuring proper spinal care – and for a healthy body into the senior years.

Note these tips to avoid back injuries that may lead to sciatica and to help prevent reoccurrences:

  • Practice good posture at all times.
  • Exercise regularly with safe and practiced motions.
  • Bend at the knees, especially to lift heavy objects.
  • Follow any specific instructions given by your chiropractor.

How Can the DRS System Help?

The DRS System is a non-surgical therapy that uses traction in specific areas of the spine to decompress painful discs. This revolutionary therapy removes pressure from the discs and joints in the lower back relieving pain. Approved by the FDA, Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab brought DRS treatment to Alaskans in 2001. It is known as an effective alternative to spinal surgery.

Patients often speak of immediate back pain relief with the DRS System. It is not uncommon for individuals to become so relaxed that they actually fall asleep during the treatment. Sessions last 30 minutes and are monitored by a trained technician.

Most treatment programs include 20 to 25 sessions spread throughout five to six weeks. Chiropractic care and rehabilitative therapy will usually follow treatment sessions. For many patients, pain may be dramatically or even completely alleviated as treatment ends.

A few benefits of the DRS System include:

  • Relief from back pain due to sciatica and other ailments
  • Decreased leg pain or numbness
  • Distraction of worn-out joints or discs
  • Shrinkage of disc herniation
  • Lasting results
  • Improved daily function
  • Improved range of motion

DRS treatments help patients to skip the surgery ward and more easily return to work. Bonus: There is not a recovery period with the DRS System. Instead, regular activities become easier with each session, as opposed to extended down time after surgery. Back pain suffers may not be aware that insurance often covers therapy with the DRS System.

But Does It Work?

Yes! Images of straps and pulleys often come to mind for some when researching chiropractic care. Well, the DRS System is just not the same thing as what your Grandma may have described. Smooth, relaxing, calming and super modern, this system may just blow your mind if you are willing to give it a go.

Older decompression systems were awkward at best and not able to address specific disc ailments. By design, they caused patients to contort into unnatural positions during therapy. Success was not typical with older disc decompression systems.

The DRS System is not shy to testing. With high success rates and many satisfied patients, Better Health in Anchorage continues to treat Alaskans with this method. Patients of all shapes, beliefs, and ages can benefit from this non-surgical type of care.

What Is The Alaska Back Pain Protocol?

 Chronic back pain sufferers may often feel as though they will never be able to live without pain. This incredibly unique therapy seeks to help sufferers find their individual niche for healing. Personalized care is essential for success in discovering what each spinal patient will require for recovery.

The Alaska Back Pain Protocol (as mentioned above) incorporates three types of therapy into one comprehensive treatment plan:

  • Chiropractic Care
  • DRS System and Low Back Pain Treatment
  • Rehabilitative Treatment

This strategy increases the success of each of the therapy types with fluidity and adds simplicity to each patient’s treatment plan. An added benefit is having one place for all of these types of care. More time to breath freely as the pain melts away!

(The Alaska Back Pain Protocol is only available through Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab of Alaska.)

Finding a Trusted Chiropractor In Alaska

Are you looking for a chiropractor in Alaska? Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, an Anchorage Chiropractic Clinic, is available to help! They can also help decipher that insurance paperwork and determine your insurance benefits for you. Insurance often covers care for patients.

They are ready to help online here or by calling 907-346-5255.

What does Better Health offer patients?

In addition, several payment plans are available to help keep health care affordable for patients:

  • Cash patient special discount
  • Financing plans
  • No required payments for 6 to 18 months (on some programs)
  • Hardship discounts and payment plans

You may not be four weeks shy of giving birth, but still find yourself suffering from sciatic pain. I hope this information is beneficial for others in need of comprehensive chiropractic care. A safe and effective strategy for healing from sciatica is available in Anchorage.

Life can easily run away with your adventures if you do not actively reach out and grab them! Caring for your health is an essential part of a pleasant, comfortable life experience. Let Better Health become your guide to recovery from sciatic pain!

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Dr. Brent Wells

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells is an actively practicing chiropractic physician that has personally led over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and Juneau where he brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.
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