Can Sciatica Be Related To A Neck Problem?

Low back pain is bad enough all by itself, but sciatica is more than just low back pain – it’s when the sciatic nerve that comes out of the lower part of the spine gets pinched, compressed, or irritated somewhere along the course of its travels from the back down to the toes. For some people it’s a temporary problem, but for others it can be a nagging problem that lasts for years. 

Sometimes sciatica happens suddenly in an accident, like a car accident or weight lifting accident, and those cases usually involve a traumatically ruptured vertebral disc, a broken or dislocated bone, and a trip to the ER. All nasty stuff, and almost always requiring surgery to fix it. 

But for most people that suffer from sciatica it happened to them gradually. 

Years ago it was just minor low back pain and over time it progressed into full-blown sciatica – that’s how most people get it. In these cases it’s an ever increasing amount of arthritis, disc degeneration, and spinal alignment problems that eventually progress to sciatica. 

If the low back pain and sciatica started slowly then it means the cause of the problem isn’t really in the low back.

The human body is not just a stack of bones with some muscles slapped on them that can be pushed and shoved into some ideal shape. If that were the case then every time you bump into something you would be stuck in that position until you bumped something from the other side. No, the human body is an uber complex and intricate system in which the sum is greater than the individual parts and pieces and everything is controlled and coordinated by one central system – the nervous system

In terms of alignment, the human body is built from the top down. How level the head is will determine the shape and alignment of the entire spine – yes, even the low back area. If the upper neck area gets out of alignment even a little bit (and that area is the most vulnerable for alignment issues) then it will cause the head to be tilted and then the body’s righting reflexes kick in – to shift the mid and lower back areas in an effort to restore balance to the upper neck and head area. Kind of like when you try to balance something on a tall stick… you move around the base to keep the top part as still as possible. 

When it comes to carefully and precisely aligning the upper neck in an effort to help the lower back upper cervical chiropractors are the specialists. Most chiropractors will attempt to adjust any part of the spine that feels stiff or tight, but upper cervical chiropractors focus only on the upper neck. That part of the spine is very unique in terms of how it moves and it takes a special approach to adjust it just right. And not only that, but the timing of when to adjust and when to leave the spine alone is very important. Upper cervical chiropractors use infrared thermography (pictured below)to help determine when they need to make an adjustment and they use special x-rays to know exactly where to adjust. 

This is what a thermography scan looks like when there’s a problem in the nervous system.

This is what the thermography scan looks like when the adjustment to the upper neck has improved the function of the nervous system. 

And when it all comes together it looks like this…