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Can Chiropractors Help Sciatica?

In short, yes. Chiropractors can help sciatica. But the more important question is this: what is causing the sciatica?

sciatica distribution of pain

“Sciatica” is simply defined as pain in the sciatic nerve. When the sciatic nerve is irritated, you experience radiating pain down the back of the thigh and into the leg and foot… And there are quite a few causes of this irritation.


description of a disc herniation

The first cause can be a disc herniation in the lumbar or lumbosacral spine. A disc herniates when the interior of the disc (called the nucleus pulposus) herniates into the outer layer of the disc (called the annulus fibrosis). The more severe cases of disc herniations occur when the nucleus pulposus herniates completely outside of the disc. You'll see in the picture above, sometimes the herniation can compress the nerve. Other times, the inflammation associated with the injury chemically irritates the nerve.


bone spurs

The second cause of sciatica can be bone spurs that develop and grow into the intervertebral foramina; which is just a fancy word for the space your nerve comes out of your spine. The bone spur can impinge on that nerve and cause sciatica symptoms. Bone spurs are an outcome of degeneration in the spine.

piriformis and sciatica pain

The third cause can be a muscle called your piriformis. Your piriformis is a hip stabilizing muscle and your sciatic nerve runs right underneath it (or in some cases, through the muscle). Tightness of this muscle can also irritate the sciatic nerve.

 

The good news? Chiropractors can often help all of these causes, depending on the severity.

 

The most important part? Finding a chiropractor who does a thorough exam to determine what the cause of the sciatica is. Why is that important? Because the treatment for each of these causes can differ. Make sure to find a thorough chiropractor who can determine the cause.

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