Lumbar Disc Herniation with Sciatica

In a recently published case study and literature review in the New England Journal of Medicine, Deyo and Mirza (2016) had published a case study and literature review on the diagnosis and treatment of lumbar disc herniation with sciatica. What is useful in this publication is the review of the literature in basic, easy to use format highlighting the most common treatments associated in lumbar disc herniation with sciatica.

The staff at Spinal Health & Wellness have specialized protocols and therapies to treat patients with sciatica.  Chiropractic care for lumbar disc herniation has a proven record for long term results without the side-effects of injections and oral medications.   Listed below is the findings from the New England Journal of Medicine.

Regarding Chiropractic Treatment

The authors stated “A randomized trial of chiropractic manipulation for sub-acute or chronic “back-related leg pain” (without confirmation of nerve-root compression on MRI) showed that manipulation was more effective than home exercise with respect to pain relief at 12 weeks (by a mean 1-point decrease on a pain-intensity scale on which scores ranged from0 to 10, with higher scores indicating greater severity of pain) but not at 1 year.  In addition, a randomized trial involving patients who had acute sciatica with MRI-confirmed disk protrusion showed that at 6 months, significantly more patients who underwent chiropractic manipulation had an absence of pain than did those who underwent sham manipulation (55% vs. 20%).  Neurologic complications in the lumbar spine, including worsened disk herniation or the cauda equina syndrome, have been reported anecdotally, but they appear to be extremely rare.” [pg 1768]

Regarding Counseling vs Supervised Exercise

“A systematic review of five randomized trials showed that patients who participated in supervised exercise had greater short-term pain relief than patients who received counseling alone, but this reduction in pain was small and these patients did not have a long-term benefit with respect to reduced pain or disability.” [pg 1768]

Regarding Oral Steroids

“Randomized trials show no significant advantage of systemic glucocorticoid therapy over placebo with respect to pain relief or reduced rates of subsequent surgical intervention, and they show little, if any, advantage with respect to improvement in physical function.” [pg 1767]

Regarding Opioid Medication

Data from randomized trials to support the use of opioids in patients with sciatica are lacking.   Systematic reviews suggest that opioids have slight short-term benefits with respect to reduced back pain.  Convincing evidence of benefits of long-term use is lacking, and there is growing concern regarding serious long-term adverse effects such as fractures and opioid overdose and abuse.” [pg 1767]

Regarding Injection Therapy

A systematic review showed that patients with radiculopathy who received epidural glucocorticoid injections had slightly better pain relief (by 7.5 points on a 100-point scale) and functional improvement at 2 weeks than patients who received placebo. There were no significant advantages at later follow-up and no effect on long-term rates of surgery.” [pg 1768]


  1. Deyo, R. A., & Mirza, S. K. (2016). Herniated Lumbar Intervertebral Disk. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(18), 1763-1772.