by: Dr. Eben Davis
The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain and possibly tingling, numbness or weakness that originate in the lower back and travel through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg.
Sciatica is not a medical condition itself, but rather a symptom of compression of the sciatic nerve, usually from a herniated or bulging disc. Other spinal conditions, such as facet syndrome and osteoarthritis, can also lead to sciatica.
We have been treating sciatica in San Francisco for over 20 years now. At first, we used mostly corrective chiropractic adjustments, lumbar extension traction, massage and physical therapy in the form of low-tech stretching and strengthening exercises.
Then, about 8 years ago we began to incorporate nonsurgical spinal decompression into the mix and the results have been outstanding.
Spinal decompression systems, such as the DRX9000, are designed and built to treat neurovascular compression syndromes, such as bulging and herniated discs. They differ from conventional traction, which may be contraindicated, in that they are fully computerized and have a biofeedback mechanism built in. The biofeedback mechanism enables the machine to sense a patient’s muscle guarding response and make adjustments to the amount of force used to apply the treatment. Traction does not do this and can harm a disc pain patient.
Spinal decompression is able to enlarge the disc space, elongate the spine, re-position the injured spinal disc back to the center and off the spinal nerves and/or spinal cord, and strengthen the spinal muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Now this does not happen overnight. It is a process. The spinal decompression protocol at our clinic is 20 sessions over a 6 week period. The sessions are an hour long. There is home care in the form of exercises, nutrition, sleeping and work postures and back supports.
In most cases of sciatica we are able to achieve favorable outcomes. If a patient has severe sciatica and muscle guarding, we may need to start off very slow and work our way into the process.
The beauty of spinal decompression therapy is that it’s 100% natural. No drugs. No surgery. If disc decompression fails to deliver results, which is rare, you are still whole and can pursue other treatment options.