Sciatica Causes and Chiropractic Biophysics Treatment

Sciatica Causes & Chiropractic Biophysics Treatment in Urbandale

Play Video


Sciatica in Urbandale is the irritation of a nerve in our bodies called the sciatic nerve. Although it sounds like only one nerve, five separate nerves come together to form the sciatic nerve. We each have two sciatic nerves, one on the left and one on the right. They start in the low back, run across the buttocks, and down the back and side of each leg. When one of the sciatic nerves is irritated it produces pain, numbness, or tingling somewhere along the course of the nerve. Sciatica is what it is called when you have any of these symptoms.


  1. Disc bulges/disc herniations
  2. Piriformis Syndrome

The large majority of the population with sciatica has the irritation of the nerve because of a disc bulge or disc herniation in their low back. The most common perpetrators are the last two discs in the low back; the lowest disc is the most common. Each individual disc bulge can only irritate one of the five nerves that form the sciatic nerve, but the pain or symptoms will still follow the course of that nerve.

A smaller percentage of people irritate the nerve via a muscle that runs across the buttocks. This muscle is called the piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve passes by right next to it or sometimes even through the muscle itself. If this muscle is tight or has scar tissue around the nerve then it irritates the nerve and causes pain or symptoms anywhere along the length of it.

The best way to determine the cause of your sciatica is through a qualified doctor such as ourselves. You can find educational videos on Youtube that can give you an educated guess. In our office we test skin sensation, reflexes, muscle strength, orthopedic tests, and use a physics analysis of the spine through PostureRay software and digital x-ray. This helps us determine the cause of your sciatica and how to treat/correct it. MRIs are the best way to check for disc bulges/herniations, but most of the time you won't need one.


If you do a quick search online for the causes of disc bulges/hernations you will find a lot of information. This includes how discs lose water with time, how age, genetics, smoking, gender, and obesity are all risk factors. These all contribute, but they miss the most important factor, the structure of the spine. To function properly, our spines need to have a very specific structure. When we lose that structure, our spines wear out and break down over time. If you lose proper curvature of your spine, it puts excess pressure and stress on discs, ligaments, nerves, and the spine itself. It is extremely rare for a patient with sciatica not to have a structural problem in their spine.


Piriformis syndrome is when the piriformis muscle tightens or has scar tissue that irritates the sciatic nerve causing sciatica. You can treat the muscle contracture, but what caused the muscle to have either of these problems to begin with? The important thing to know before answering that question is that muscle doesn't function on it's own. Muscle requires stimulation from a nerve to tighten up. Muscles can spasm and twitch and you may recognize this as a muscle cramp, but cramps and twitches only last a few seconds.

When a muscle is tight for a long time there is a completely different cause, and it's called a stretch reflex. Muscles sense when they are getting stretched which causes them to tighten up to protect the tissue. The problem is that they won't loosen up until that stretch is removed. So what stretches a muscle for a long period of time? The only answer is the structure and functioning of your spine. At our office we often see piriformis syndrome in people who have one leg shorter than the other (yes that is a real thing). The spine structure needs to be addressed to have more permanent relief from muscular problems such as this.


Chiropractic biophysics is a specialized type of chiropractic that doesn't only work with the functioning of individual joints. Doctors who practice chiropractic biophysics do a physics analysis of the spine. This allows them to see exactly where the structure of the spine has gone wrong and physically measure it down to degree and millimeter measurements. Once the structural problem is identified it can be corrected is by pulling and stretching it in the right direction for enough time. Chiropractic biophysics doctors then use specialized machines to help with this problem. Through years of good quality research, this procedure has shown consistent results in successfully changing the shape of the spine. This produces better and longer lasting relief for sciatica.

Visit our CBP Technique page to see a more detailed explanation of the entire process. If you ever need any advise or help make sure to get a hold of your local chiropractic biophysics doctor, or feel free to Contact Us at Advanced Spine Health Center and schedule a consultation or exam.


9:00am - 6:30pm

9:00am - 6:30pm

9:00am - 6:30pm

9:00am - 6:30pm

9:00am - 6:30pm


Advanced Spine Health Center

8431 Hickman Road
Urbandale, IA 50322

(515) 423-0708