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Sciatica Treatment: A Macomb, MI Chiropractor’s Perspective

Woman with lower back pain on couchThe sciatic nerve is the largest in the human body. It starts in the lower spine, passes through the buttocks, and travels down the leg to the bottom of the foot. Sciatica is a condition that is specific to the compression of the sciatic nerve, happening anywhere along the length of the nerve. Typically, sciatica’s sharp, shooting pain is felt initially in the buttocks before it radiates down the leg.

Our sedentary lifestyle has exposed more people to the risk of sciatica. Prolonged periods of sitting, either for work or leisure, put extended pressure on the sciatic nerve and weakens the hip flexors, shifting a person’s weight distribution to the backside. A manual labor job that requires heavy lifting or climbing, as well as obesity, also puts people at risk for sciatica.

It’s critical to address sciatica in its acute phase, which is less than two weeks. Addressing issues right away not only prevents the problem from becoming chronic, but the longer you go without care the harder the condition is to treat.

With chiropractic care for sciatica, we focus on the pelvic area, ensuring there are no imbalances in the pelvis that can pull at the glutes directly irritating the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic adjustments will help balance the pelvis and alleviate pressure on the nerves. In conjunction with exercises and stretches to reinforce healthy structure and provide pain relief, chiropractic care is an incredible natural treatment for sciatica.

How We Treat Sciatica Pain in Macomb, MI

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

With any new patient, we always start with a comprehensive health history where you get to speak directly with the doctor about your condition to try to identify the root cause of sciatica and how your lifestyle may be preventing recovery. In addition to orthopedic exams, neurological tests, and posture checks, we will also take X-rays and do a thermal scan of your spine to assess how your nerves are functioning at each level. This all helps us paint the clearest picture of what’s going on in your body. Based on these findings we can create the most effective care plan using chiropractic adjustments to help alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve and restore mobility to the pelvic joints and surrounding areas.

Specific Chiropractic Care in Macomb, MI

We address sciatica with chiropractic care by looking for the areas where the nerve is experiencing irritation, stress, or pressure. That area is called a subluxation. We address subluxations with a chiropractic adjustment, which alleviates the pressure on the nerve creating a better connection between the brain and the body. When the brain and the body can communicate properly our body is able to function optimally at all levels, from organs and organ systems down to the tiniest cell. Chiropractic adjustments take pressure off of the sciatic nerve and restore mobility and balance to both the pelvis and the muscles in the region.

Chiropractic is about restoring optimal function to the spine. This will improve nerve function. Our nerves control every single aspect of our body, so any stress on the nerves will affect how our body functions, causing symptoms and perhaps other health issues later down the line.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plans

In addition to chiropractic adjustments, we create a custom functional fitness plan filled with exercises and stretches that will help alleviate sciatic pain and relieve irritation on the nerve. There is usually muscle tension surrounding the sciatic nerve due to pelvic or spinal imbalances. Different pressure point releases and specific sciatica stretches and exercises will help relieve muscle tension and restore balance to the muscles which may be interfering with nerve function. Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean that sciatica recovery can’t still be happening.

Flexion Distraction Table

Patients that are experiencing sciatic nerve pain may benefit from our flexion-distraction table. This multi-jointed table allows patients to lay face down, with their torso on one section of the table and their lower body on another, while we maneuver the table to activate the discs in the lower back. This relieves pressure off of the discs in that area which may be the root cause of sciatica pain. The pumping motion of the table also helps stretch the glutes to relieve muscle tension and any nerve irritation that may result.

Massage Therapy

At Bence Chiropractic Wellness Center, we think massage is a great way to stimulate the self-healing that our bodies were designed for. We have a massage therapist on staff that our patients rave about and truly helps with relaxation. Studies have even found that deep tissue massage is as effective as over-the-counter medication for relieving sciatica pain. Tense muscles can place pressure on our nerves, interfering with proper function and triggering pain signals. Massage helps relieve muscle tension and reduce any pressure those muscles may be placing on the sciatic nerve.

In addition to natural sciatic pain relief and improved mobility in the lower back, massage therapy has emotional benefits as well. Massage releases endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, hormones that increase a person’s sense of well-being. Massage reduces stress, elevates our mood, combats depression and anxiety, improves our quality of sleep, and increases our sociability.

Common Causes of Sciatica Pain in Macomb, MI

Herniated Lumbar Discs

In between each vertebra is a spinal disc that aids in motion and acts as a shock absorber for the spine. They also provide nutrients to the spinal nerves themselves. Healthy discs are critical to the health of our spine. Over time, either by direct trauma or an accumulation of microtraumas like bending, twisting, heavy lifting, or poor posture, the discs begin to wear and tear. As they start to lose their structural integrity they become dehydrated and worn down.

Spinal discs have a fibrous outer layer and a nucleus that is a jelly-like consistency. As the outer fibers wear down the jelly-like interior begins to push against its outside walls, a bulged disc, and put pressure on the nerves. As the outer layer loses its structural integrity altogether, the inside can break through directly irritating the nerves. This is a herniated disc. This type of irritation can cause intense sciatica pain. Bulged and herniated discs also prevent proper motion in the spine.

It is critical to address disc injuries right away because as they progress it is possible for the disc space to wear down completely. When this happens, surgery may be the only treatment option.

Degenerative Disc Disease

While usually seen in older adults, degenerative disc disease is when the disc breaks down and shrinks. The result is a smaller opening for the nerve to exit the spinal cord and innervate the body. The shrinking disc puts direct pressure on the nerve resulting in dysfunction and pain.

This disc breakdown can be the result of trauma or the accumulation of microtraumas like poor posture, heavy lifting, bending, and twisting. Obesity and smoking can also exacerbate degenerative disc disease, pulling nutrients from the body and dehydrating the discs.

Healthy discs are vital for providing motion throughout the whole spine and delivering nutrients to the nerves. Degenerative disc disease is progressive, it’s just going to get worse if it goes unaddressed. It also can’t be reversed, but its progress can be slowed and the symptoms can be managed through chiropractic care.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal which puts pressure on the nerves as they exit the spinal cord due to a herniated or bulged disc. Stenosis can make standing or walking painful, though the pain is usually relieved by sitting or bending forward as it increases space in the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis can cause problems in the GI tract or changes in bowel or bladder habits, as well as numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain in the legs and low back.

Muscle Strain or Spasm

Everyone’s body is different, but the sciatic nerve usually runs over the glute muscle or right between them. Tight glute muscles can cause direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. It usually feels like a dull, achy pain in the glute area and low back, worsening throughout the day as you tire out your muscles. Poor posture and weak core muscles are primarily responsible for this type of muscle dysfunction that can be the root cause of sciatica.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)

15-30% of low back pain is the result of SI joint pain. The sacroiliac joint absorbs shock between the upper body and the pelvis and aids in hip movement. Pain in the sacroiliac joint is typically pretty sharp right where the joint meets the hip and the sacrum – the lower part of the spine which sits right between the pelvis. It can also feel like a dull, stuck feeling. SI joint pain is common during pregnancy because of the stress on the pelvic area itself. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can often mimic that of a herniated disc, so it’s critical to get to the root cause of any low back or sciatica pain in order to create an effective treatment plan.


Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebral body slips in front of the other due to ligament instability in the spine. Different stresses – a major trauma, sports injury, fall, car accident, even a job that requires a lot of heavy lifting or twisting – can cause one vertebra to shift forward. If the vertebra slips too far forward, it can press on the sciatic nerve causing pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness throughout the lower back, buttock, and down into the legs and feet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I see a doctor or a chiropractor for sciatica?

Chiropractors are doctors. With that said, you should see a chiropractor for sciatica because we want to address the underlying condition and not just the symptoms. This allows us to correct the problem before it becomes chronic, by relieving the constant pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve.

What can I do to relieve my sciatica pain?

See a chiropractor! We’ll help relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve to provide pain relief and restore spinal function. In addition, we’ll provide you with stretches and exercises that will help to stabilize healthy spinal structure to prevent sciatic issues in the future.

What is the best treatment for sciatica?

We believe chiropractic care is the best treatment for sciatica because it is natural, non-invasive, conservative care. We always opt for this type of care over surgery, opioid pain relievers, or injections.

How should I lay with sciatica?

The best sleeping position is on your back or your side, never on your stomach. With sciatica, sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees helps reinforce a neutral spine and takes pressure off of your low back.

How long does sciatica last?

The duration of sciatica issues varies from person to person. It depends on the cause of sciatica pain, lifestyle habits, and how quickly a person addresses the issue. Not immediately addressing sciatica increases the likelihood of it getting worse, increasing recovery time.


Sciatica Treatment | (586) 978-9900