Know The Facts: Chiropractic Nearly As Effective As Surgery For Sciatica [Research]
A Better Solution To Treating Sciatica
The debilitating condition known as sciatica is the result of compression or irritation on the major nerve that originates in the low back and supplies each leg with innervation. This nerve interference is most often triggered by an injury or misalignment in the spine, either putting direct compression on the sciatic nerve root or causing a bulge (or herniation) of a disc, which then in turn causes compression on the nerve.
The most common complaint associated with sciatica is a burning pain running from the low back to the lower legs. Nevertheless, there can be a variety symptoms experienced with sciatica depending on the specific nerve fibers are being affected including numbness, aches, tingling, or weakness. Sciatica patients also often describe a “pins and needles” sensation in the feet.
Sciatica symptoms often begin slowly but become more severe as time goes by, and the pain is often exacerbated by illness or sudden movements such as sneezing or coughing.
Sciatica Treatment Options
Patients who fail to respond to initial treatment with medication are often advised to consider spinal decompression surgery, otherwise known as a microdiskectomy. Microdiskectomy surgeries are exceedingly common; over 300,000 of the procedures are performed each year in the US. However, with up to 20% of the surgeries failing to relieve the original symptoms, more and more patients are opting to instead utilize spinal manipulation from a chiropractor.
Comparing The Effectiveness Of Surgery & Chiropractic
A recent Canadian clinical trial compared the effectiveness of spinal decompression surgery versus spinal manipulation from a chiropractor. The researchers selected 40 patients suffering from sciatica caused by a lumber disc herniation whose symptoms had not improved after at least three months of non-invasive therapies (painkillers, massage, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes). Twenty of the participants were randomly selected to undergo spinal decompression therapy while twenty were assigned to receive chiropractic manipulation over the course of six treatments. The participants were given the opportunity to switch groups after twelve weeks if they were unhappy with their results.
85% of the microdiskectomy group reported improvement after treatment compared to 60% of the spinal manipulation group who saw clear improvement in their sciatica symptoms. Interestingly enough, the participants who opted for surgery following twelve weeks of chiropractic manipulation achieved the same success rates as those who initially had surgery, but for those who switched to chiropractic care post-surgery this was not the case.
The report, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, suggests that patients suffering with sciatic pain will find relief with non-invasive treatment by a chiropractor at a rate that’s nearly as effective as microdiskectomy surgery. Patients who fail to find results with chiropractic care still have surgery as a second option. What’s more, the researchers note that “the obvious risk and cost of surgical treatment argues for serious doctor and patient consideration of SMT (spinal manipulative therapy) before surgery.”
Although chiropractic treatment may not be effective in treating 100% of sciatica cases, it is a safe, proven and cost-effective option to consider before undergoing invasive surgical intervention. Are you suffering from the pain and inflammation of sciatica and considering treatment with a Brookfield chiropractor? Gentle, precise chiropractic care at Ascent Chiropractic is an effective and drug-free method of treatment for sciatica for Milwaukee area patients. Call us at 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment online.
McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, duPlessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiscectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. JMPT. 2010; 33(8).