Exercise and Chiropractic Cures Firefighter with Sciatica and Low-back pain

A combination of exercise and chiropractic care may be the missing link in your sciatica treatment. Recently, a case study illustrated the benefit of chiropractic care in a 47-year old firefighter with chronic back pain and sciatica.

The patient had an active lifestyle and physically-demanding job. He had a deep, dull low-back pain, pain in the right buttock and a pins and needle sensation in his right leg. Eleven years earlier, the patient had a herniated disk with symptoms gradually progressing over time. The patient had previously received both chiropractic adjustments and lumbar-disk surgery. After surgery, the pains no longer radiated down his leg but his low-back pain persisted and was significantly worse 15 years later at the time of the study.

Researchers treated the patient with a multimodal approach that included different chiropractic adjustments than he had previously received, non-surgical spinal decompression therapy, and an exercise program with strength and balance training. The patient also received educational training on proper posture. In addition to this multimodal approach, researchers collaborated with other health professionals like the patient’s previous neurosurgeon to learn more about the patient’s previous treatment.

Over the course of the 12 weeks within receiving the multimodal treatment, the patient reported significant improvements in his daily functioning, disability, and overall pain. On a scale of 1 to 10, the patient’s pain decreased from a 6 to 1. His endurance, strength, and balance also improved as he was able to lift more weight, balance longer, and do more push-ups and sit-ups. Within 90 days, “the patient was essentially fully recovered.”

Although this single case study cannot be generalized, researchers suggested that the study does include diagnostic measures and treatment that may be relevant for similar patients. They also suggested that a similar multimodal approach may be effective for patients with physically-demanding work like firefighters, bus drivers, police officers, emergency medical service workers, and other service-oriented professionals.

Given the multifaceted nature of back pain, researchers recommended that chiropractors take a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to treating sciatica and back pain.  If you have sciatica or chronic low-back pain, talk to your chiropractor about ways to integrate exercise and various chiropractic therapies into your treatment to speed and strengthen your recovery process.

Schwab, Matthew J. “Chiropractic management of a 47-year–old firefighter with lumbar disk extrusion.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 7 (2008): 146-154. Accessed November 10, 2011. 10.1016/j.jcm.2008.06.001.