by: Dr. Eben Davis
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It can be as large as the diameter of a quarter at it’s peak circumference. The sciatic nerve is formed by nerve roots as they exit the lumbar spine and come together; kind of like a 4 or 5 lane highway forming merging into one lane. The sciatic nerve then travels down the back of each leg to the foot.
The sciatic nerve is very sensitive to pressure, as are all nerves. In fact, all it takes it pressure equivalent to that of a pencil eraser to interfere with the transmission of normal sensory and motor impulses.
If there is pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they exit the spine, from say a bulging or herniated disc, it can irritate the sciatic nerve and cause pain signals all the way down the leg. This is called sciatica. It is also possible to experience numbness or tingling in the leg, even weakness.
Sometimes the symptoms of sciatica can be so severe that a patient needs to be hospitalized.
My experience has been that sciatica symptoms mostly come and go in the beginning. But as the herniated or bulging disc advances in severity, the sciatica symptoms become worse. This can happen in a short period of time (months) or more commonly over a period of years.
Medically, sciatica is mostly treated with cortisone injections, physical therapy or surgery to remove the herniated disc fragments on the nerve.
Chiropractic adjustments can help sciatica, especially in the early stages.
The best nonsurgical treatment I know of for sciatica is nonsurgical spinal decompression with a machine like the DRX9000. The DRX9000 is designed and built to treat neurovascular compression syndromes, such as herniated and bulging discs, facet syndrome and spinal stenosis, without surgery.
Spinal decompression machines are able to isolate a specific spinal disc, say L5/S1, and seek to enlarge the disc space, elongate the spinal ligaments, and re-position, as well as re-hydrate the disc, which promotes healing.
We have had great success with the DRX9000, but not all disc patients are good candidates. Typically, we will not perform spinal decompression therapy if a patient has acute sciatica. We need to wait until the symptoms, especially the muscle spasms, subside. Often times, we will work with a patient after they have had a cortisone injection from a medical doctor.
If a patient meets our criteria for case acceptance, success rates are high for sciatica relief.
The beauty of spinal decompression for sciatica is that if it fails to deliver results, the patient is still whole. We did not add anything to the body or take anything out. The patient is still able to explore other treatment options.
If a herniated disc patient has surgical fusion, they are permanently disqualified from nonsurgical spinal decompression. This is why it may be a good idea to try it first. Something to think about.