June 12, 2020
Proper function of the sciatic nerve is essential to many everyday tasks, including walking. This nerve, which starts in the lower part of your spine (L4-S3 nerve roots), runs down the back of your leg controlling the leg muscles and sensations on the skin of the leg. When an issue arises with this nerve, it may be felt as a shooting pain down the buttocks and legs. This is known as sciatica. Sciatica is a common condition but is sometimes not well understood by the people who suffer from it. The pain which can show up in parts of the leg such as a person’s calves or toes actually stems from the low back. The sciatic nerve root exits from the spine between the vertebrae. When there is a subluxation or a misalignment in the vertebrae, one of two things can occur: either the misalignment creates inflammation in the small joint space which will in turn directly put pressure on the sciatic nerve, or the misalignment can cause a disc to bulge which will then apply pressure to the nerve, leading to the shooting pains. In both cases, sciatica symptoms are a result of the compression of the nerve root at the spine.
Receiving a specific adjustment from a chiropractor helps decrease the pressure on the nerve created by the subluxation or misalignment. In 1990, a CAT scan study was done on patients experiencing sciatica symptoms before and after chiropractic adjustments. The study showed that after adjustments, the alleviation of pressure could be seen on the CAT scan and patients experienced improvement in performance with everyday tasks, such as stand, sit, lift and walk for longer periods of time without discomfort.
1. Richards GL, Thompson JS, Osterbauer PJ, Fuhr AW. Low Force Chiropractic Care of Two Patients with Sciatic Neuropathy and Lumbar Disc Herniation. Am J Chiropr Med. 1990; 3(1): 25-32.