What is Sciatica and How can Chiropractic Help?

The 2006 study published in the Spine Journal called “Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations”.

Millions of people are affected by sciatica, ranging from just a slight annoyance to a debilitating problem. In addition to suffering with symptoms, most sciatica sufferers are directed to take potent prescription pain medications. Often times strong NSAID or Opioid medications are prescribed in order to cope with the radiating pain. All of which come with many unwanted side effects. Chiropractors help sciatica sufferers every week in offices all over the world. But the cause of sciatica is not always the same. This research evaluated a population of people suffering from low back pain with leg radiculopathy to see how the specific group responded to “real” versus “sham” chiropractic adjustments. The results were as follows:

  • The purpose of the study was to assess the short and long-term effects of spinal adjustive care on acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion.
  • This was a randomized double-blinded trial comparing active and simulated spinal adjustments for 102 patients.
  • The spinal adjustive care or sham spinal adjustments were done five days per week by experienced chiropractors for up to a maximum of 20 patient visits, using a high-velocity and low-amplitude technique.
  • Re-evaluation’s were done at 15, 30, 45, 90, and 180 days.
  • 64 men and 38 women were randomized to adjustments or sham adjustments.
  • The aim of the side posture chiropractic spinal adjustive care to the spinal column was to restore the physiological motor unit movement.
  • At the end of the follow up, a significant difference was present between active and sham spinal adjustive care.
  • Local pain= 28% full improvement of symptoms in active group compared to just 6% full improvement with sham group.
  • Radiating pain = 55% full improvement of symptoms in active group compared to just 20% with sham group.
  • Active spinal adjustive care resulted in reduction of radiating pain and a significant lowering in number of days on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Patients receiving active spinal adjustive care enjoyed significantly greater relief of local and radiating acute low back pain, spent fewer days with moderate to severe pain, and consumed fewer drugs for the control the pain.
  • No adverse events reported. Authors concluded that chiropractic spinal adjustive care may relieve acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion.

The cause of sciatica is not the same for every person suffering from the condition. Many underlying factors can contribute to the presence of sciatic-type symptoms. Drug therapy, particularly NSAID or Opioids, are often the first line of defense for sciatica sufferers. These drugs not only come with a laundry list of unwanted side effects, they are also not prescribed to address the underlying cause of the problem. Chiropractic can be effective in many cases of sciatica when it relates to dysfunction in a spinal motor unit, better known as Subluxation. Favorable results are both seen in clinic and through many research trials supporting the benefits of chiropractic spinal adjustments. This data helps show why chiropractic care should be a primary intervention recommended for those experiencing low back pain with radiating sciatica-type symptoms.


Chad McDill, DC

MaxLiving Chiropractor

4580 W Hwy 136, Trenton, GA 30752

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