The diagnosis “Sciatica” refers to pain, numbness or tightening of the leg. The symptoms
may even go into the sole of the foot or into the toes. The cause is from pressure or
irritation of the nerve roots L4, L5 and/or the sacral nerve roots where they exit the spine.
In lay terms, these nerves are located from the waist to the tailbone. Pressure on the
nerves of the low back and sacro-illiac joints can cause low back pain which may or may
not send symptoms into the leg or legs.
The source of this pressure is often a degenerating or herniated disc. This is often
complicated by a tilting or a rotational misalignment of the spinal bone above or below the
disc in question. If the sacral nerves are involved, then the cause is a rotation or tilting of
the pelvis because the sacrum does not have discs which could bulge. For these
misalignments to be diagnosed, the doctor of chiropractic uses x-ray and examination.
When found as a source of nerve irritation or interference these misalignments are referred
to as subluxation. If the spine is twisted or tilted or one of its bones or vertebrae is slipping
backward or forward then this puts more pressure on the spinal nerve above or below that
To reduce the further pressure caused by spinal misalignment / subluxation, the doctor of
chiropractic adjusts the spine to bring more normal alignment to the spinal bone. I prefer
to use modern gentle methods of drop table and instrument adjusting to take the pressure
or irritation off of the nerves. This is performed after a complete orthopedic and
neuromuscular exam, a thorough analysis of your examination and x-ray findings . Then
a plan of care is devised to maximize the benefits of the chiropractic and physical therapy
that would be provided here in my office to you. At Better Health Chiropractic, we use use
a computerized low back traction called Decompression to reduce the pressure on the
nerve caused by a bulging disc. If you are interested in nutritional support for your discs,
ligaments and muscles. We also tailor an exercise program to fit your spinal needs.
Spinal degeneration progresses if left untreated. Waiting and hoping for the symptoms to
go away is unwise when there may be effective help for this cause for back and leg pain.
We may be able to help you avoid corrective surgery. The Oct.2010 issue of Journal of
Manipulative and Physiologic Therapies published a study “Manipulation versus
micro-discectomy for sciatica. This study found spinal adjustments to be equally effective
as this modern spinal corrective surgery. Another study recently found that spinal traction
does reduce herniated discs. The State of Oregon released findings revealing that spinal
manipulation is very effective for acute low back pain and that it should be used for 4-8
weeks before a surgical consult is obtained. The Agency for Health Care Policy and
Research acute low back pain guidelines state that spinal manipulation both relieves pain
and restores function.
When considering medication one must consider the potential of side effects. There have
been two studies recently released revealing the dangers of pain medication and over the
counter pain remedies. NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) and analgesic
medications relieve pain but do not restore function. Acetaminophen (for example
Tylenol) is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. NSAIDs(for example Aleve,
Ibuprofen, Celebrex, Vioxx) are the second leading cause of stomach ulcers resulting in
over 100,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths annually. The Center for Disease Control
recently reported that 90% of poisoning cases are related to prescription drug use and that
40% are related to pain medication. At Better Health Chiropractic we have herbal antiinflammatory
supplements that contain Tumeric/ Curcumin, oswelia, Bromelain,
Yucca,Quercetin and Devil’s Claw. These herbs decrease inflammation by blocking the
enzymes that cause inflammation: Cox 2 and Cox 5.
Corticosteriod injections can shrink the disc but have harmful side effects. This gives
temporary pain relief to make you more comfortable but does not relieve the cause of the
irritation which is often disc pressure on the nerve. Surgery can remove the disc material
pressing on the nerve but often scar tissue grows after surgery and this may also press on
the nerve, even if the surgery is done arthroscopically and with a laser. Scar tissue forms
after burning tissue away with a laser and after use of a scalpel.
Therefore, I feel that chiropractic should be given in a series of adjustments with
computerized spinal decompression traction before pain management or a surgical solution
is sought. I do work with pain management physicians and I am willing to make necessary
referrals for medication and/or surgery if needed. Try Chiropractic first, drugs second and
For a complementary telephone consultation, call me Dr. McFarland-Bryant at 795-8911