Home Blog Dr. Tim Harcourt of Coast Chiropractic Explains Nerve Flossing and Low Back Pain

Dr. Tim Harcourt of Coast Chiropractic Explains Nerve Flossing and Low Back Pain

Jun 2, 2021 -- Posted by : Dr.Harcourt

The sciatic nerve is made up of five nerve roots that exit the spine in the lower back (L4 to S3) and then merge into one nerve that travels through the buttock and into the leg. At the back of the knee, the nerve divides into two nerves, the tibial and common peroneal, that travel into the inner and outer lower leg and foot.

When the sciatic nerve is compressed or pinched, a patient can feel pain, tingling, numbness, and even weakness in the hip, buttock, and leg. For individuals under the age of 60, the most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disk. For older adults, the most likely causes of sciatica are spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the openings of the spine the nerves travel through) and spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra slides forward on the neighboring vertebra).

Normally, a nerve root moves freely in and out of the spine through holes located between each vertebra called intervertebral foramen (IVF). Movements or exercises such as hamstring stretches or punting a football create tension on the sciatic nerve and pull the nerve roots out of the IVFs. Similarly, when we stand up straight and look down at our feet, this pulls the spinal cord upward and the nerve roots move into the IVFs.

When managing sciatica, chiropractors will utilize a technique called nerve flossing. Like flossing teeth, the back and forth motion of the dental floss is conceptually the same action as the back and forth motion of the five nerve roots that merge into the sciatic nerve. To pull the nerve roots out of the IVF, extend the head/neck upward and then flex the foot/ankle upward as well (toes toward the nose). To pull the nerve back into the IVF, point the foot/ankle downward while the head/neck flexes forward (chin to chest). Repeat multiple times as long as pain or other symptoms do not worsen. The idea behind this is to free up the nerve root by reducing adhesions in the IVF.

Nerve flossing is usually performed first by a doctor of chiropractic to make sure it is well tolerated and safe so that the patient can perform the exercise at home several times a day. Studies show that this method helps reduce tension on the sciatic nerve while also stretching the hamstrings, which are often tight in patients with low back pain.

So, if you are experiencing back pain and type in chiropractor near me or pain management near me, you may find Coast Chiropractic Centers with Dr. Timothy Harcourt, me, comes up.  You may wonder, “Do I need an MRI scan of my back.” Also, if you feel leg pain it may indicate things are getting worse and may indicate a bulge on the disc or worse yet a herniated disc in your back.  Some people will try stretching the lower back first to see if they get relief.  Pain very low in the lower back may be originating from the coccyx or tailbone.  A pulled muscle in the back generally will get better with rest.  Persistent or worsening pain intensity and/or frequency necessitates a visit to see a professional.  Call me, Dr. Tim Harcourt, at (239) 278-3344 and mention this article for an awesome discounted first visit to include history, exam, and adjustment or Class IV high-intensity laser treatment.

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