On September 22, 2016, a study was published in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research documenting chiropractic helping a patient with bilateral sciatica. Sciatica is a term that means pain down the sciatic nerves which run on each side from the buttocks down the back of the leg to the foot.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It is actually comprised of fibers from several nerve roots exiting from several levels of the spine. In addition to pain, sciatica can also involve weakness, numbness, or a loss of motor control down the leg. Sciatica usually involves some type of mechanical compression on the sciatic nerve or the sources of the sciatic nerve.
According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 70% of the population in industrialized countries will suffer back pain at some time. It is estimated that between 13 to 40% of the public will suffer from sciatica at some time in their lives. Annually, it is estimated that between 1 and 5% of the population deals with this issue in a given year.
In this case, a 77-year-old man went to the chiropractor. The man was suffering from bilateral sciatica which started a year earlier after a car accident. The pain was so severe that the man was unable to walk more than four steps. In addition to the sciatica, the patient was suffering from diabetes, depression, and constipation.
A chiropractic examination was performed on the man which included range of motion, palpation, infrared paraspinal thermal scans, spinal x-rays, and motion x-rays. The man’s range of motion was limited due to pain, and palpation showed areas of tenderness over the pelvis at the origin of the sciatic nerve. From the examination and x-ray findings, a determination was made that subluxations were present in the patient’s spine.
Specific chiropractic adjustments were given to address the subluxations found to be present. After a month and a half, totaling eleven visits, a re-examination was performed. At that time, the man reported that his sciatica had been significantly reduced. He also reported that he was able to walk for a longer distance than before. His range of motion was also greatly improved.
In their conclusion the authors wrote, “Sciatica and other lumbar radicular syndromes are painful conditions that can cause significant disability to a patient.” They also noted that specific chiropractic care for the reduction of vertebral subluxations can have a positive effect on bilateral sciatica symptomatology.