Sciatica: Surgery or Chiropractic?

If you suffer from sciatica, you may be considering surgery to relieve the pain. Before you do, consider the costs and effects of surgery. Typically patients with sciatica who receive surgery undergo the conventional approach known as microdisctomy. A newer form of surgery, known as tubular discectomy, is claimed to be safer, but how effective is this method?

A recent study from the AMA reports that this method may not be better at all. In this study, 300 patients with sciatica due to lumbar disc herniation were assigned to receive either the conventional or the less-invasive surgery method. The study found that both groups experienced the same rates of complications, and the less-invasive approach did not reduce the average recovery time or length of hospital stays. The patients receiving the less-invasive surgery actually reported a higher degree of disability than conventional surgery patients. With either surgical method, 1 out of 10 patients had some type of complication.

Numerous studies have proven that chiropractic is an effective, non-invasive treatment for sciatica. For instance, a study from 2010 included 40 patients with sciatica who had tried other treatments but were still experiencing pain. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to surgery, and the other half received chiropractic adjustments. Sixty percent of patients who received chiropractic adjustments had significantly improve symptoms. Furthermore, those patients did not experience the complication rates associated with surgery. The strong success rate of chiropractic adjustments in treating sciatica led researchers to recommend that patients seek chiropractic care before opting for surgery.

Talk to a chiropractor about using safe, non-invasive methods for relieving your sciatica pain.


Arts MP, et al. Tubular diskectomy vs. conventional microdisktomy for sciatica: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2009; 302: 149-158.

McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2010; 33(8): 576-584.