Treating Sciatica With Chiropractic Care

What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve branches from the lower back through the hips and buttocks, and down the legs. It carries messages from the brain, down the spinal cord, and to the legs to help facilitate several movements of the foot such as turning the foot upward, downward, inward, and outward.

When the sciatic nerve gets compressed, sciatica occurs which is characterized by pain radiating along the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is more common than you might think. It is estimated that around 40% of people experience sciatica symptoms at some point in their lives.

The intensity and nature of sciatic pain can vary depending on the cause. Some people experience mild pain while others have frequent episodes of excruciating pain.

Some people describe sciatica pain as sharp, debilitating or shooting, while others describe it as burning or stabbing. Sciatica pain may worsen with movement. The pain can interfere with daily activities and cause mobility issues.

Do not ignore sciatica pain. If left untreated, sciatica can cause permanent nerve damage. Consult a doctor immediately if you have fever and chronic back pain, or are experiencing numbness or weakness in your thighs, pelvis, or legs. Contact your primary care physician or refer to a chiropractor in Santa Rosa if you believe you are experiencing sciatic pain.


Sciatica usually occurs when a herniated disc or bone spur compresses the sciatic nerve, causing pain, inflammation, and numbness in the leg. A muscle spasm and changes that occur during pregnancy can also cause sciatica.

Usually, sciatica affects only one side of the body. However, depending on where the nerve is being pinched along the spinal column, sciatica can occur in both legs.

Risk Factors

Obesity and age can increase a person’s risk for sciatica. Diabetics, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, those that have a job that involves heavy lifting or twisting, and smokers have an increased risk of developing sciatica.

Pregnancy is also a risk factor for sciatica. During pregnancy, the growing baby and expanding uterus can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing inflammation and recurring episodes of pain.


Some common sciatica symptoms include:

  • Moderate to severe low back pain
  • Numbness or weakness in the lower back
  • Feet, buttocks or legs
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Pain that worsens with movement


Doctors use a number of physical tests to diagnose sciatica. They may order imaging tests including X-rays, MRIs, EMGs, and CT scans to check for bone spurs and herniated discs.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

There are several medications for sciatica. Though many over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions may provide relief from sciatica pain, they may have side effects, and could be addictive.

Patients that are concerned about adverse effects of reliant medication turn to chiropractic care to manage sciatica pain.

Chiropractors take a holistic approach to their patients’ overall well-being. They treat the root cause of sciatica, and not just sciatica symptoms.

A systematic review of multiple studies conducted in 2015 concluded that chiropractic care can provide relief from sciatica and other different types of back pain.

Chiropractic care is drug-free, does not have any major side effects, and is non-invasive. Chiropractors in Santa Rosa use hands-on spinal manipulations, physical therapy, and other techniques to help relieve sciatica pain.

When performed by a certified expert, chiropractic care is 100% safe. The National Institute of Health has pointed to research which concluded that chiropractic care is usually safe for most people.

Chiropractors use spinal manipulations, which involves using the hand to apply gentle pressure to the affected area to bring a herniated disc back into its original position and ease muscle spasms. Spinal manipulations allow your chiropractor to move the lower back vertebral column without pressing on the sciatic nerve.

Sometimes, the discs in the spine can dry out naturally and become thinner, resulting in spine compression. Chiropractors use spinal decompression to help relieve pressure on the compressed nerves.

Chiropractors also use massage therapy to help ease sciatica symptoms such as pain and numbness. Chiropractic massage therapy can trigger the release of endorphins and other natural painkillers. Chiropractic care improves nerve function, boosting the immune system.

Your chiropractor may also use heat and cold therapy to provide quick relief from sciatica pain as well. Heat relieves muscle tension, while cold therapy helps ease sciatica symptoms. Depending on your condition, your chiropractor may use both hot and cold therapy (alternating between them) or choose between the two as treatment options.

Many chiropractors use TENS therapy to help reduce sciatica pain. TENS stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and it involves using electrical current at variable intensities to reduce tension along the sciatic nerve.

What to Expect During a Chiropractic Adjustment?

During an adjustment session, your chiropractor in Santa Rosa will apply a short, high velocity thrust to the affected area. They may also use special instruments to diagnose and treat muscle tension.

You might hear a popping sound, but will feel no pain. Some people may feel sore or achy after a session. Any pain and discomfort after chiropractic treatment usually subsides in a few hours or days.

Tips to Prevent Sciatica

Poor lifestyle choices increase your risk for sciatica. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of developing sciatica.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise strengthens the core. A strong lower back helps maintain proper posture and alignment
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not sit for long periods of time. If you have a desk job, take a break every 60 minutes to stretch your muscles
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain good posture while sitting, lifting objects, and sleeping

Is sciatica pain keeping you up at night? Let Toth Chiropractic help! Dr. Toth uses spinal decompression and other chiropractic techniques to treat sciatic pain and other health conditions.

Whether you have been grappling with sciatica for years or have been experiencing sciatica symptoms for a few days, Toth Chiropractic can help. To learn more, call (707) 526-1390.