by: Eben Davis, D.C.
Sciatica describes pain along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve originates in the lumbar spine and is formed from branches of the lumbar nerve roots. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and can be the diameter of a quarter at it’s thickest point, in some people.
The sciatic nerve travels through your hips and buttocks and down the back of your legs into your feet. Typically, sciatica is in one leg, but can be in both.
The primary cause of sciatica is a bulging or herniated disc, putting pressure on the lumbar nerve roots. Bone spurs from degenerative osteoarthritis can also irritate the sciatic nerve.
There are other causes of sciatica, as well, such as piriformis syndrome. The sciatic nerve passes through the piriformis muscle, a large muscle in the buttocks, on it’s way down the leg.
People who sit a lot, like office workers or truck drivers, are prone to this problem.
Most cases of sciatica will resolve in a few weeks with conservative care, such as physical therapy, chiropractic or medical care.
There is a subset of sciatica patients, say about 10-20%, who do not respond to conservative care. These patients may need surgery. There are also non-invasive solutions, like nonsurgical spinal decompression.
Spinal decompression machines are designed and built to treat lumbar disc herniations, bulges, and spinal degeneration, without utilizing drugs or surgery. This is accomplished by enlarging the disc spaces, elongating the spine, stretching and strengthening the spinal muscles and ligaments, and rehydrating the injured discs.
Decompression machines also re-position the herniated disc into a more normal placement in the center of the intervertebral space and away from the spinal nerve roots and spinal cord.
Success rates with nonsurgical decompression are high. However, not all sciatica patients will qualify medically for spinal disc decompression.
If you have any metal, cement or hardware in your spine, you do not qualify.
In addition, if you have advanced osteoporosis, scoliosis, or spondylolisthesis, you may not qualify. Most treatment candidates do qualify.
We recommend that before you consider back surgery, you should try nonsurgical spinal decompression. It is very safe and gentle. If you do not achieve a favorable outcome, you are still whole and can pursue other treatment options, including spinal surgery.
If you have a fusion procedure, you will never be able to try decompression.
Spinal decompression is still considered experimental, so there are no insurance codes that cover it. Costs can range from $2000-$6000 depending on the area you live, the severity of your case and the components of your treatment program.
Sessions are an hour long and the protocol is for 20 sessions, over 6-8 weeks.
So there you have it. If you have sciatica and are looking for a non-invasive permanent solution, why not consider nonsurgical spinal decompression?
Chances are you will be glad you did!