Wonder How Many Chiropractic Treatments You Need For Sciatica?
Watch the video to learn how quickly sciatica should improve with chiropractic treatment. Plus, learn what other treatments are good for sciatica besides seeing a chiropractor.
Physical Therapy or Chiropractor For Sciatica?
At More 4 Life, we're manual physical therapists, meaning we do a lot of hands on treatment technique such as manual trigger point therapy, dry needling, and spinal manipulation.
Therefore, sometimes when people are searching for the types of services that we provide, they search for chiropractic treatment.
We actually see a lot of patients who have seen chiropractors in the past, or sometimes patients who are seeing chiropractors at the same time that the see us.
This is not to bash chiropractors or say chiropractors are good or chiropractors are bad. I actually have some good friends who are chiropractors.
The purpose of this post is just to help someone understand how many spinal manipulation or chiropractic treatments you might need in order to get better from sciatica.
How Many Treatments For Sciatica With A Chiropractor?
There are a lot of things that affect sciatica and those can all vary the number of spinal manipulation visits that you'll need during the course of your treatment.
Severity of your sciatica
The severity of your sciatica is one factor. For example, how far down your leg do your symptoms go goes matters.
In fact, when a lot of people think of sciatica, they refer to it as pain either in their buttock or in the back of their leg, or sometimes all the way down the leg into their foot or into their toes.
When some people say sciatica, they really just mean buttock pain, and other people when they say sciatica, they mean the full gamut of all the way down the leg into the toes.
So that just goes to show that the term "sciatica" is not very descriptive in terms of telling you what's actually wrong or what's causing the problem.
Duration of symptoms
Research shows that spinal manipulation treatment is a great type of treatment for some types of back pain. What the research shows is that spinal manipulation is really good for types of sciatica or back pain that have just come on in the last two weeks or so and doesn't go past the knees.
That's not to say that things that have gone on longer than that and don't respond well to spinal manipulation treatments, but really recent things that are more localized just back pain or just buttock pain or even down to the back of the knee are typically the things that will respond better to sciatica and will require fewer treatments in order to get better.
When Should You NOT See A Chiropractor For Sciatica?
There are times when you should NOT see a chiropractor for sciatica.
In the worst case scenario if you're losing bowel or bladder function (you're having accidents, you can't hold it, or you can't go when you want to) that's more of a medical emergency.
In that case, you should skip the chiropractor, skip the PT, and just go to the ER.
There are also other less severe cases where you should not see a chiropractor for sciaitica.
- You have symptoms that go down past the knee and you have some numbness or tingling in your lower leg or foot
- You're getting a drop foot or you feel like you can't push off as well when you're walking
All those things would be more of a sign where the nerve isn't just irritated but it's actually being compressed or pinched.
And in that case, if you do aggressive spinal manipulation treatments, regardless of whether they're performed by a chiropractor or physical therapist, you can actually make the nerve compression a little bit worse.
Now, sometimes manipulating in other areas besides the area where the nerve is pinched can be a helpful part of the treatment.
But ultimately, the main goal of your treatment if you have weakness or numbness, particularly below your knee, is to take the compression off of the nerve without further damaging it.
So Exactly How Many Chiropractic Treatments Does It Take For Sciatica Relief?
As to how many treatments that will take, it's hard to say.
A really badly compressed nerve is going to take more treatments than a nerve that's not as badly compressed. That in turn will also take more treatments than a nerve that's barely compressed or just irritated.
Regardless of your degree of sciatica though, you should see improvement within the first few visits.
I have seen patients in the past who have been signed up for $4,000-$10,000 dollar chiropractic packages where they're expected to go for a year, and they're just not getting any results from it.
That type of treatment pattern isn't warranted.
Regardless of who you're seeing for your sciatica, whether it's a chiropractor or a physical therapist, you should see some improvement within the first few visits.
That's not to say that it'll be completely resolved in a few visits, but if you're not seeing a little bit of improvement in your sciatica within the first few treatments.
If you don't see improvement in your sciatica after a few treatments, then it's probably time to look for something else.
What Else Can You Do To Supplement Chiropractic Treatment For Sciatica?
Ultimately just manipulating your spine isn't going to fix the root cause of the problem.
Something caused the roots that make up your sciatic nerve to get pinched in the first place.
That might be body mechanics, muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, etc.
But regardless of whether you have chiropractic treatment or physical therapy treatment consisting of spinal manipulation, you also want to do the things to address the muscle imbalances, the stiff muscles, the weak muscles, and the activities that caused them.
That way, your spinal manipulation treatment isn't just a thing where you have to keep going back to the chiropractor week after week, month after month, getting maintenance visits for months or years on end just to keep the problem from coming back.
You want to learn what was causing the problem in the first place and how you can address those root causes on your own so it empowers you to take care of your own symptoms if they ever should come back.
How To Know When Chiropractic Treatment is NOT Helping Sciatica
Now, if you're in the position where you've had a lot of spinal manipulation treatments in the past and you're starting to wonder, "Is this really the best thing for me? Is this really working?"
Chances are if you're starting to think that, it probably isn't. It's probably too late at that point, and it's probably time to seek out something different.
If you're wondering how many chiropractic treatments should it take for sciatica, look for some improvements within the first few visits. If that doesn't help at least a little bit within the first few visits, move on.
Need Help For Sciatica?
If you need help for sciatic, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our manual physical therapy specialists.
We'll help you figure out the root cause of the problem and what you can do to address it to help take care of the problem for good.