Posted by: Dr. Paul Zemella - Santa Barbara Chiropractor | August 21, 2011

Possible Chiropractic Services Approaches for Sciatica

The exact treatment plan depends on your diagnosis. Your chiropractor may use a type of spinal manipulation, or spinal adjustment, to improve joint motion and soft tissue health. Some spinal manipulation techniques or chiropractic services are:

Specific spinal manipulation: The chiropractor identifies the joints that are restricted or show abnormal motion, also called subluxations, and returns motion to the joint with a gentle thrusting technique. This gentle thrusting rapidly stretches soft tissue and stimulates the nervous system to return normal motion to the spine.

Flexion-distraction technique: This is a gentle, non-thrusting type of manipulation used to treat bulging or herniated discs. This treatment is still hands-on, utilizing a specialized table to assist the chiropractor, but uses a slow pumping action on the disc instead of direct force.
Instrument-assisted manipulation: This is another non-thrusting technique. Using a hand-held instrument, the chiropractor can apply force without thrusting into the spine. This is especially appropriate in older patients with degenerative joint syndrome.

The chiropractor may also use chiropractic services to treat injured soft tissues such as ligaments and muscles. Some examples are:

Trigger point therapy: The chiropractor identifies specific hypertonic (tight), painful points on a muscle. He or she puts direct pressure (using the fingers) on these points to relieve the tension.
Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques: Muscle energy therapy, an osteopathic technique, is an example of a resistance manual joint therapy.

Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy: The chiropractor may use Graston technique, an instrument-assisted therapy to treat the injured soft tissue. Your chiropractor will perform gentle repeated strokes of the instrument over the area of muscle injury.

In addition to spinal manipulation and manual techniques, the chiropractor may use various therapy modalities to help reduce the inflammation that can cause sciatica. Some examples are:
Interferential electrical stimulation: This uses a low frequency electrical current to stimulate your muscles in order to reduce inflammation.

Ultrasound: By increasing blood circulation, ultrasound helps reduce muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. It does this by sending sound waves deep into your muscle tissues, creating a gentle heat that enhances circulation and heating.

To reinforce the improved joint mechanics (return of normal spinal motion), your chiropractor will prescribe therapeutic exercises.

Chiropractors are “whole person” doctors who view back pain as unique to each patient. Therefore, they don’t focus on just your low back and leg pain. Chiropractic services includes nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle goals (because all of those can add to back and leg pain, so you need to address them if you really want to relieve your pain).

Chiropractors emphasize prevention as the key to long-term health—another example of chiropractors looking at the whole person, not just the painful problem. Keeping the low back healthy is vital to the chiropractic approach to care.

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