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Sciatica Research - Advice from a Doctor You Can Ignore (But Probably Shouldn't)

man with back pain

What if I told you there was something you could do to help your sciatica that was at least as good as surgery but WITHOUT the potential harmful side effects?

Here’s what most doctors know about sciatica and some free advice – you’re free to ignore it if you want, but you probably shouldn’t.


If you’ve ever suffered from sciatica, I can commiserate with you.  It’s one of the worst pains you can possibly have.  Moving, breathing, even sleeping is painful!

Imagine what life would be like if you never had to worry about another painful sciatic episode.  Picture never having to worry about lifting your kids up to hug them or doing that yard work you’re dying to get to.  How much better would your golf swing be? Or your tennis game?

Imagine life without those days and weeks of painful sciatic episodes where you live from one pill to the next, waiting for relief.

The uncertainty is the worst.  What would it feel like to never have to worry about “throwing your back out” or wondering when you’re going to feel that knife-like pain in your back or the burning down your leg?

When I first began in practice 17 years ago, back surgery was the gold standard for sciatica.  Patients used to tell me they were going in to have their “spine cleaned up”.  The thinking was that “going under the knife” would help the spine heal and fix the sciatic pain.  As it turns out, this isn’t really true.

Times have changed.

Don’t get me wrong, surgery definitely has its time and place.  There are unfortunately 2 main problems inherent with back surgery.  The first problem is that the group of people who would actually benefit from it is very small and extremely difficult to predict.  The second problem is that for those who DO have surgery and the surgery fails, they are frequently left with excruciating pain that is worse than what they started with!  Because this happens so often, doctors actually have coined the term “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome”.

The more we know and understand about this surgical procedure, the fewer the number of people who are choosing to place this option on their wish list.  Understandably.

The good news is that the bigger this problem becomes – and the fact that sciatica affects 10% of the global population means it’s a HUGE problem! – the more research is done and the more information we have on what IS effective for this painful, debilitating condition.

A recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics indicated that  “61% of the patients with sciatica who had failed other medical management, benefited from ‘something else’ as if they had gone to surgery.”


I’m going to get to that in just a moment.  But before I do, it’s important to understand that sciatica is complicated.  It’s rarely caused by just one thing…many factors often contribute to it. That’s why it can be so difficult to treat if you follow a traditional approach.

Because sciatica has so many potential contributing factors, diagnosis and treatment is challenging.  That’s why so many cases come back again and again.

There are 2 big reasons why this ‘something else’ is so effective in treating and healing sciatica:  first, it addresses an underlying core problem with the structure of the body that is almost always present with sciatica; and two, it stimulates the body to learn to heal itself from subsequent episodes of sciatica.  So the body gets better at nipping the problem in the bud before you suffer.

Sciatica means inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which happens to be the biggest nerve in the body.  The sciatic nerve is the size of a rope, and it is comprised of 5 nerve smaller nerve roots – L3, L4, L5, S1 and S2 (you’ve probably heard those terms before if you suffer from sciatica!).  This one huge nerve extends from the lower back to the end of the big toe, affects over 20 spinal joints, and is one of the most complex nerves in the body.  All this to say that sciatica is a diagnostic nightmare leading to false positives with testing and often different and conflicting answers from doctors.

This leads confusion and frustration at best, and surgery at worst.

Here’s what’s crazy.  If you have sciatica and you opted to do nothing about it, two years from now you would be slightly better (yes, I said better) than someone who opted to have surgery.

If you did physiotherapy and exercise, you would be slightly better than that group that did nothing.

But if you did physiotherapy, exercise and that ‘something else‘, you would have the best chances of being pain-free from your sciatica.  And you would not have the stress and negative side effects of surgery.

The brilliance of this ‘something else’ lies in what all sciatic pain sufferers have in common: 1) a problem in the spine, 2) nerve interference causing pain and other problems, and 3) overall joint mobility issues.

To really understand how this all works, I’d like you to pause for a moment and do a test.  Seriously, stop reading and stand up – this will only take about 7 seconds.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your heels firmly planted on the ground.  Whatever you do, DO NOT lift your heels off the floor.

Now squat as deeply as you possibly can keeping those heels on the floor.  See if you can squat until your butt touches your legs.  Don’t hold on to anything on the way down or back up again.

How did you do?  Were you able to go all the way down and back up again without assistance?  Did you have any pain in your feet, ankles, knees or hips?  Did your feet want to turn out, or did your heels lift off the ground?

If you were not able to easily perform this squat without assistance, pain or “cheats”, you most likely have structural issues in the spine and pelvis that need to be addressed.  When you address and correct any structural issues present, you will have the best chance at reducing or alleviating sciatic pain altogether. 

Can I get a “heck ya!”?

That ‘something else’ I’ve been referring to has the potential to address the spinal problem, nerve interference and joint mobility issues that are present in sciatic sufferers.

That ‘something else’ is NEURO-STRUCTURAL RESTORATION using the Life By Design Chiropractic Method.

Neuro-Structural Restoration is different than traditional chiropractic, which by the way, is great for reducing pain in the short term.  Neuro-Structural Restoration addresses the structural problems in the spine and also works to stabilize and strengthen the spine and surrounding tissues while reducing nerve interference.

This method addresses all 3 components of sciatica:

  • the spine problem
  • the nerve problem
  • the joint mobility problem

Step 1 is really simple.  Determine IF there is a spine and nerve problem through a comprehensive Neuro-Structural Examination.

There’s no more guess work or going by “how you feel”.  We can determine once and for all IF there is a problem and IF we are able to help you.

If you have any questions about your particular case, leave a comment below or message me personally.  If you’d like a risk-free way to determine if your sciatica can by helped by the Life By Design Chiropractic Method, just book your free case review.




Dr. Craig Dingman

Dr. Craig Dingman

I’m Craig, and I am passionate about helping the families in York region become the healthiest families around.  I am an expert in Neuro-Structural Restoration and helping people maximize their potential through healthy lifestyles.  I love being a devoted husband to my wife, Shawna (also a partner at Elevate) and dad to our 3 amazing children, Jackson, Jenna and Cole.


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