Sciatica (or sciatic neuritis) is a set of symptoms arising from the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerves or nerve roots. It is experienced as pain in the lower back and buttocks, and sometimes in the legs and feet, and may be accompanied by tingling sensations or numbness, muscle weakness and restricted leg movement. The pain may be felt to “travel” down the leg, and is commonly felt only on one side of the body.

If you suffer from sciatica, it is important to remember the term “set of symptoms.” This means that it is a description of the effects, rather than a diagnosis or exact description of what causes them. Sciatica can be caused by several different conditions. For this reason it is important to see your chiropractor to get an accurate diagnosis to determine the actual cause of the symptoms in your case. Any treatment regime or set of prescribed exercises will depend on the exact nature of this diagnosis, and cannot be generalized.

Following an examination, your chiropractor may recommend a series of chiropractic manipulations to treat the underlying structural cause of the condition, but will also prescribe a series of exercises to relieve the pain by stretching tight muscles that may be contributing to it by maintaining pressure on the sciatic nerves. Exercise is often felt by the sciatica sufferer to be counter-intuitive, because the pain can be so severe that one is tempted to take painkillers and go to bed and rest until it subsides. But in reality one of the best forms of self-treatment is exercise, either in the form of walking or gentle stretching movements. The exercise will strengthen the muscle groups that support your lower spine and back, stimulate blood flow to the area to promote healing, and cause the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

Exercises to relieve the symptoms of sciatica may vary, depending on the specific cause of the condition, but a few general observations can be made about them. Most sets of sciatica exercises involve strengthening the abdominal muscles, which better support the spine and keep it properly aligned when they are strong. Sciatica exercises also often include gentle stretching of the hamstring muscles. Once the initial sciatica pain has been treated via chiropractic manipulation or other means, walking is often a great form of self-treatment, because it contributes not only to healing by promoting blood flow but also strengthens the muscles that support the lower back.

In some cases, “press ups” (lying on your stomach and pressing your upper body up with your arms, similar to the chataranga or “up dog” pose in yoga) can be beneficial. “Curl ups” (lying on your back with your knees bent and gently curling the upper body up and holding the position for a few seconds) can also strengthen the abdominal muscles, and are easier than traditional “sit ups.” Leg raises (lying on your back and gently lifting first one leg and then the other and holding it for a few seconds) can also be effective. If your sciatic pain is severe, you may find these and other exercises easier to perform in water.

With all sets of exercises used to treat the symptoms of sciatica and relive its pain, there are three things to remember. First, as mentioned above, don’t start a generic set of these exercises without consulting a professional to determine the exact cause of your symptoms. Second, “easy does it.” Don’t strain or try to attain or hold any position that is uncomfortable for you. And third, be consistent; the benefits of exercise for sciatic pain depend on doing them regularly.

For more information or an appointment call 253 472-4400



Chiropractic for Acute Back Pain


Acute or sudden onset back pain can be due to a number of causes. It’s easier than one thinks to sprain or strain the tendons, muscles and ligaments that support the spine, especially if we are out of shape. While sports injuries are common, sudden onset back pain may also be a result of just bending over to pick something up off the floor.

Weakened muscles may suddenly go into spasm from performing the simplest movements. If you have a sedentary lifestyle or are carrying a few extra pounds, that can weaken the structures supporting the back, which can lead to acute back pain. If your vertebrae, muscles and ligaments are chronically unbalanced, it can lead to a imbalance in your spine and create the perfect conditions for sudden onset back pain.

Another common cause of acute back pain is a vertebral compression fracture due to osteoporosis. This type of fracture can happen at any time, even simply from sneezing, coughing or rolling over in bed, if the osteoporosis is sufficiently advanced. Acute back pain usually follows a vertebral compression fracture, which happens when the front part of the vertebrae collapse, making the vertebrae wedge-shaped. The acute pain from this type of fracture usually lasts for 4 to 6 weeks, when it becomes a more chronic type of aching pain.

Chiropractic therapy has been proven to be an effective tool in treating and reducing acute back pain, and does so in a safe and cost-effective manner. Conventional medical treatment for acute back pain has not been as successful. In fact, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, which is a research organization sponsored by the federal government, recommended that adults with acute lower back pain first seek treatment using spinal manipulation, as it is safe, effective and doesn’t require drugs.

A study published in the December 2010 issue of The Spine Journal found that patients who were suffering from acute lower back pain had positive results after treatment with chiropractic manipulation, as opposed to no improvement in the control group who were treated with pain medication and physical therapy. The researchers reported that after 16 weeks, “78% of patients in the UC [conventional treatment] group were still taking narcotic analgesic medications on either a daily or as needed basis.” And that “treatment including CSMT [chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy] is associated with significantly greater improvement in condition-specific functioning.”

So if you find yourself suffering from sudden onset back pain, consult with your chiropractor, who can determine the cause of your pain and provide safe, effective treatment so it doesn’t become chronic.  Call 472-4400 for a free consultation

It’s a great success story that most of us probably haven’t heard very much about.  America’s roads have become far safer across the past 20 years.  By just about any measure, travelers are much less likely to be injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident than they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Fast Facts:  Motor Vehicle Accidents by the Numbers

Vehicle Miles Driven.  Americans traveled 2,172 billion miles in 1991 and 2,979 billion miles in 2009.  That’s a 37% increase.

Motor Vehicle Accidents.  During the same 1991-2009 period, the number of accidents on U.S. roads actually decreased by 10%, dropping from 6,117,000 to 5,505,000.  So even though we’re traveling more miles, we’re having fewer accidents.

Occupant Fatalities.  The number of motor vehicle occupants killed in accidents during 1991 was 31,934. That number declined by 23% to 24,474 in 2009.  The fatality rate per 1,000 accidents dropped from 5.2 to 4.4 persons.  That means that when we do have an accident, it’s become less likely that someone traveling in the vehicle will be killed.

Occupant Injuries.  The statistics show an even more positive trend with respect to injuries.  The number of occupants injured in accidents fell 29% from 2,850,000 in 1991 to 2,011,000 in 2009.  The injury rate per 1,000 accidents declined from 465.9 persons to 365.3.  Simply put, our motor vehicle accidents seem to be injuring fewer drivers and passengers when they do occur.

It’s likely that this general trend toward safer roads is being driven by a combination of factors.  It could be the way we’re driving that’s producing fewer, less serious crashes.  It could be the way our roads are designed, maintained or policed.  It could also be the active and passive safety features now included in many of our vehicles.  But whatever the reasons, we can all agree that this is good (if under-reported) news for our nation’s travelers.

But What if I’m One of the Two Million Unlucky Ones this Year?


As encouraging as this trend is, it obviously means little to you if you or someone you care about is actually injured in a car accident.  Even in cases where drivers and passengers walk away from a wreck believing they’re “uninjured”, accidents can have profound, long-lasting health consequences for those involved.  It’s not uncommon for some types of symptoms to appear only gradually days or weeks after the event itself, delaying effective diagnosis and treatment.  Symptoms may also come and go intermittently, making it more difficult to associate them with the accident.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to safeguard your health and improve your chances of a more rapid, complete recovery following an auto accident.  Clinical studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care can shorten recovery time and decrease the amount of permanent physical damage sustained in a collision.

Take Care of First Things First.

Always address any life-threatening injuries first.  If you experience (or have reason to suspect) significant bleeding or bruising, broken bones, internal pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or shock, you should seek immediate help from healthcare professionals who specialize in treating trauma injuries.

Recognize Signs that You May Be at Increased Risk of Developing Chronic Problems.

Be sure to tell your doctor if any of the following warning signs apply:

  • A prior history of back,      neck or shoulder problems (including previous injury).
  • Distinct numbness,      tingling or pain immediately following an accident.
  • Increased muscle tension      or reduced range of motion after the crash.
  • You were involved in a      rear-end collision.
  • Your head was turned at      the moment of impact.
  • You have symptoms that      don’t resolve or that become generalized.

Visit your Chiropractor as Soon as Possible After an Accident.

Do this even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt very badly.  Research has shown that early intervention in the form of chiropractic adjustment, massage and supervised exercise and stretching programs can make a big difference in longer-term function.

Stay Active.

Activity encourages blood flow to the injured area and promotes healing.  It also helps prevent or reduce scar tissue formation and maintain range of motion.

Strengthen the Affected Area(s) as Directed by your Chiropractor.

Exercise and stretching programs are designed to help prevent future injuries and are an important part of a balanced treatment plan.

An auto accident can affect your health (and your lifestyle) for years if you don’t receive the proper treatment.  So if you or someone you care about has been injured in a collision, please call our office at 472-4400 and make an appointment today.  Chiropractic care can help put your recovery in the fast lane!

Dr. David Hendrickson

References and Resources

A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System.  Traffic Safety Facts 2009 Early Edition.  U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safey Administration.  Accessed August 2011.

Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Guide to Diseases and Conditions: Whiplash and Alternative Medicine.  Accessed August 2011.

Berglund A, et. al., The influence of prognostic factors on neck pain intensity, disability, anxiety and depression over a 2-year period in subjects with acute whiplash injury.  Pain.  December 2006.

Jull G, et. al.,  Does the Presence of Sensory Hypersensitivity Influence Outcomes of Physical Rehabilitation for Chronic Pain?  A preliminary RCT.  Pain.  May 2007.

Karnezis IA, et. al., Factors Affecting the Timing of Recovery from Whiplash Neck Injuries:  Study of a Cohort of 134 Patients Pursuing Litigation.  Archives of Orthopeadic and Trauma Surgery.  October 2007.

Peolsson M, et. al., Generalized Pain is Associated with More Negative Consequences than Local or Regional Pain:  A Study of Chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorder.  Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.  April 2007.

Rosenfeld M., et. al., Active Intervention in Patients with Whiplash-Associated Disorders Improves Long-Term Prognosis.  Spine.  November 2003.

Sterling M., et. al., Physical and Psychological Factors Maintain Long-Term Predictive Capacity Post-Whiplash Injury.  Pain.  May 2006.


New Expectations and New Advice for Today’s Arthritis Sufferers


If you or someone you care about is suffering from arthritis, you should know that arthritis doesn’t have to mean an end to an active lifestyle.  Prior generations may have accepted the condition as an inevitable part of aging and been given a standard prescription of bed rest and drug therapies.  However, today’s health care professionals recognize that appropriate exercise and nutrition are also critical to managing arthritis effectively, and they can recommend a much wider range of treatment options.  Your chiropractor can play an important role, not only in relieving pain, but also in helping patients with arthritis continue to live a more independent, active lifestyle.


Understanding Arthritis and its Lifestyle Effects


Arthritis is not really one medical condition.  Rather, it’s a more general term that refers to inflammation that may affect joints and other parts of the body as a result of more than 100 “rheumatic diseases”, such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.  These disorders destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues.  While arthritis is most often seen in middle aged and older adults, it can also afflict younger people.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 22% of American adults (about 50 million people) report having been diagnosed with arthritis.  Their symptoms may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.


While the general public is aware that arthritis is painful, fewer people recognize just how severe and widespread the debilitating effects of arthritis actually are.  People with arthritis may experience difficulty with everyday tasks like buttoning shirts or opening packages and containers.  They may also find that arthritis limits their mobility.  This could prevent them from participating in their favorite activities or spending time with friends and family.  The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons issued a Bulletin in October 1999 that ranked arthritis as a more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer or diabetes.  More than ten years later, the CDC estimates that 21 million Americans face some type of disability as a result of arthritis.  These kinds of statistics suggest that strategies for managing arthritis need to address goals beyond pain relief if they are to be truly successful.

How Your Chiropractor Can Help


For many arthritis sufferers, treatment still begins with rest and medication.  But if you have arthritis, a chiropractic physician can help you develop a well-rounded, long-term approach to managing your arthritis in two other very important ways:


  • Designing an exercise program based on your own unique requirements.  Such a program usually focuses on a combination of goals, including (1) restoring any lost range of motion in your joints, (2) improving your flexibility and endurance, and (3) increasing your muscle tone and strength.   Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that inactivity can make joints affected by arthritis even more painful and stiff.  It can also have other negative health effects.   A properly designed and supervised exercise program can reduce these risks.


  • Suggesting dietary changes and/or nutritional supplements that may be effective in reducing or controlling inflammation in your joints.  Some research indicates that certain foods can have a role in either increasing or suppressing the body’s natural inflammatory response.  Making adjustments to your diet may reduce swelling, redness and pain related to arthritis.


Your chiropractor will help you make ongoing adjustments to both your exercise and nutrition programs based on your own progress so that you get the maximum health benefit with minimum discomfort and risk.


Communication is Key


Keep in mind that some types of physical activity and dietary supplements may actually do more harm than good depending on the specific nature of your arthritis, the joints involved and your current treatment plan.  So open communication with all the members of your healthcare team—including your chiropractor, family doctor and any specialists you’re working with—is the key to achieving results safely!


Both the symptoms and underlying causes of arthritis can vary a great deal by individual, so it is important that you consult your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and to put in place a treatment plan that’s right for you.





Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation — United States, 2007—2009.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).  October 8, 2010.  Accessed August 2011



The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States.  Chapter 4: Arthritis and Related Conditions.  2010.  Accessed August 2011



Musculoskeletal Conditions in the United States.  American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.  1999.


Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness.  The Mayo Clinic.  Accessed August 2011



Research Spotlight:  Green Team May Help Protect Against Rheumatoid Arthritis.  National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  Accessed August 2011.



Research Spotlight:  Pomegranate Extract May Be Helpful for Rheumatoid Arthritis.  National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  Accessed August 2011.



Research Spotlight:  Turmeric and Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms.  National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  Accessed August 2011.



Arthritis: Dietary Dos and Don’ts.  Johns Hopkins Health Alert.  August 9, 2010 (Reviewed January 2011).  Accessed August 2011.




Headaches are a common source of pain for a large number of Americans.  95% of women and 90% of men have had at least one in the past 12 months.  And for about 45 million of us, those headaches are chronic. 


While a wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications have been developed to relieve this pain, they generally do little to address the underlying cause of the problem.  In addition, many of these compounds can have unwanted side effects, particularly if they’re used often, over a prolonged period of time or in combination with other medicines.  A growing awareness of both the limitations and risks of pharmaceuticals has led many headache sufferers to explore alternative approaches to managing them, including chiropractic.


Understanding Headaches


Headaches occur for many reasons and can vary greatly in their intensity and duration.  They may arise on their own (these are termed “primary headaches” and account for about 90% of all headaches) or be triggered as a result of some other health condition (described as “secondary headaches”).  Chiropractic physicians most commonly encounter three types of headaches in their work:


  • Tension headaches are primary headaches that are brought on by unrelieved muscular contractions in the head, neck and shoulders, usually as a result of stress that cannot find an outlet.  These muscular contractions can themselves become the source of broader tension and stress throughout the body, setting in motion a feedback loop that eventually produces a headache.


  • Migraine headaches are also primary headaches.  They are sometimes referred to as vascular headaches because they happen when blood vessels in the head suddenly expand, or “dilate”.  However, we know that the nervous system and genetic factors are also leading contributors.  Sufferers report a wide range of triggers and related symptoms.  Research into the exact cause of migraines is ongoing, and the condition has stubbornly resisted efforts to find a pharmaceutical “silver bullet”.


  • Cervicogenic headaches are secondary headaches produced when pain begins in the neck or back of the head and is referred to the forehead or the area behind, in and around the eyes.  Trauma, chronic tension and disease are some of the more common initial sources of neck pain that is referred to the head.  Trigger points in the neck, shoulder blade and spine may also be sources of these headaches, though they can be much more difficult to identify. 


How Chiropractic Can Help


There is a large and growing body of medical research that suggests chiropractic care can be effective in preventing or reducing the frequency and severity of primary headaches.  There is also some evidence that it may have benefits for cervicogenic headache sufferers. 


Chiropractic manipulation of the spine and neck is used to improve the alignment of the spine and relieve muscle tension.  It also reduces nerve irritation and improves vascular flow.  Your chiropractic physician may also include massage and other therapies as part of a well-rounded treatment plan.  He or she will likely suggest exercise, stretching and relaxation techniques as well as nutritional strategies designed to help prevent future headaches.


If you or someone you know is looking for lasting relief from chronic headaches, we encourage you to call our office today.  The sooner you make the call, the sooner we can help you put an end to the suffering.  





Headaches and Chiropractic.  American Chiropractic Association.  Accessed August 2011.



Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.  AltMD.  Accessed August 2011.



Information for Patients.  American Headache Society.  Accessed August 2011



Research Spotlight:  Study of Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Neck-Related Headaches Reports Findings on Dose and Efficacy.  National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  Accessed August 2011.



National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus.  Accessed August 2011.





Back pain relief is just one component of chiropractic care, but it is often a patient’s first introduction. Back pain is horribly debilitating affecting all aspects of work and personal life. If you are suffering from back pain, you are not alone. Here are a few facts about back pain that may (or may not) surprise you.
• Back pain is the number one disability for those under age 45.
• In the United States of America alone, there is an expected 31 million people with lower back pain at any given time.
• Back pain runs second, after only the common cold, as the top reason for visiting a healthcare provider in the United States.
• Experts place the likelihood of any person to experience some type of back problem in their lifetime at about 80%. That’s four out of every five people!
• Over 50 billion dollars are spent per year in the pursuit of clearing up cases of back pain.
• Around 30 to 40 percent of all workplace absences are due to back pain.
• Approximately one quarter of U.S. adults reported having low back pain lasting at least one whole day in the past three months, and 7.6 percent reported at least one episode of severe acute low back pain within a one-year period.
• One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
• Approximately 2 percent of the U.S. work force is compensated for back injuries each year
• Lower back pain accounts for two thirds of all back pain-related cases.
• More than two-thirds of back strains are caused by lifting and other exertions like pulling and pushing.
• Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
The key to proper treatment of back pain is to understand the cause. Remember, pain is always a sign that something else is wrong and if continually ignored may lead to more serious harm. Chiropractors are experts in assessing the root cause of your back pain and putting you on the right course to recovery.

Discover Life Chiropractic
253 472-4400

What About That Bruise Or Bump

There are numerous physical stressors in the life of a child.  These stressors may be seen first in the last trimester of the pregnancy when the fetus is in a malposition causing in-utero constraint.  The infant in a breech position is 50% more likely to suffer a hip dislocation, mandibular asymmetry, and postural distortion.  The transverse lie increases the child’s chance of postural scoliosis, and the brow or facial position can lead to upper cervical, upper thoracic and lumbopelvic strain causing potential areas of subluxation.  All of these malpositions rarely resolve prior to birth and lead to C-sections.

In the U.S., birth trauma is estimated to be one of the top 10 causes of infant mortality.  Many in the developing field of sensory integration disorder management are stating that birth trauma is a major cause of the disorder.  In 2006, 31.1 % of U. S. births were by C-section, a dramatic 50% increase from the previous 10 years.  With the increased rate of C-sections, the rise in pregnancy associated deaths should be noted.

The first year of life is not without trauma, either.  Approximately 50% of all children have fallen head-first from a high place.  Furthermore, baby walkers contribute to 3000 annual injuries in children fewer than 15 months.  Here are some other staggering statistics:

More than 1 million children under the age of 5 visit hospital emergency rooms each year.

Almost 200,000 children are injured in car accidents and more than 1000 children die annually as a                                   result of those accidents.

Trampolines result in an estimated 88,000 visits to the emergency room each year, and playground     equipment accounts for another 200,000 visits.  

In the U.S. 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each and every year.

Looking at repetitive stress syndrome it is very easy to see that it may start with parents incorrectly holding their infants or incorrectly changing a diaper without proper spinal support.  Infant bouncers and activity centers require youngsters to stand on joints that are unable to normally support their own weight.

Mastering walking is not easy.  The art of balancing on two feet will mean hundreds of falls during the first year or so of a child’s life, with the child often landing on their bottom.  This can cause repetitive micro trauma to the sacrum and other surrounding joints.

Children learning to walk are often seen with bruises on their brow from running into something low.  This hyperextension trauma may lead to cervical and upper thoracic subluxations.  As a child gets older, repetitive stress continues with the use of backpacks at early ages and the asymmetry it brings to the child during their developmental years.

This is why our office recommends that all children get checked early in life.