Inversion Table for Sciatica?

First of all, thank you ever so much for your website! I'm a consecrated fan of Chiropractic since 1980, which was the first time my legs simply gave out on me and I had to have help to get back up. DC's have helped me out from practical paralysis on at least two occasions, maybe even three, and I'm forever grateful for their service and their work. I've even switched MD's for not believing in Chiros! SO THERE! I'm diagnosed with sciatica and other complications on the lumbar and cervical zones and recently purchased an inversion table but my present DC told me it could provoke a slipped or herniated disc, while I feel it has benefited me. Can you comment on this for me, please? Once again, THANKS SO MUCH for your site and Newsletter! VERY educational and I have recommended it.


Hello AY,
Many thanks for your compliments, much appreciated.

You know, anything can cause anything! I have an inversion traction unit myself, and I feel it has value in the practice, but I must confess I've seen no research on them. So I can't categorically agree or disagree with your chiropractor.

I think it most unlikely that it could CAUSE a slipped disc as you are distracting the discs, reducing the pressure in the disc. But whether it can be scientifically shown that it helps for sciatica or not, I'm really not certain. I'll do some homework on the research.

But I always say, "If it works for you, then do it."

Your blood pressure okay? That's the one very definite contra-indication for inversion traction.

Even though your chiro disapproves, I wouldn't withhold from him that you are using it. He should know... and after all it is your body! But do listen to his viewpoint, evaluate it for yourself.

I hope this contributes,

Dr B

My blog:

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May 06, 2012
Regarding What is levoscoliosis
by: Alvey

AHA! Regarding your What is levoscoliosis? reply, I truly appreciate the explanations. This is great!


Many of these terms are explained in a the context of patients with these sorts of problems. See Frog, Bats and Clogs at my other site, Light informative reading.


Apr 29, 2012
What is levoscoliosis?
by: Alvey

I read in the report from the CT Scan of my Lumbar Spine, that "LEVOSCOLIOSIS of the lumbar spine is noted as well.", but the meaning of this was not explained to me. It also says that " the L4-L5 disc space level...there is mild central spinal stenosis and foraminal stenosis..." What are these?

We doctors try to make something seem more impressive by the use of Latin terms. Lumbago sounds much more serious than low back pain!

Levo simply means left, it's a term not usually used as it could be left convex or left concave. But the conventional would be to say left convex scoliosis.

One important factor to think about with a scoliosis is to check for a short leg, again "leg length inequality" sounds more impressive, you can charge more!

A heel lift, or full inner may help, the difference important, as the thickness of the lift. I say MAY advisedly.

It could be a very mild levo scoliosis, or severe, we're not told. Mild are very common.

Stenosis means narrowing. You can narrowing of the central spinal canal, and narrowing of the forament where the nerve exits. Mild is the operative word, don't get too excited about it.

Perhaps more important than either traction, or the inner in your shoe, is a disciplined daily set of exercises before getting out of bed every morning. See our Lower back exercises on Youtube.


Dr B

My blog:

Apr 22, 2012
More Kudos
by: Alvey

Just thought I'd say how much I had been enjoying your site until you responded so quickly to my inquiry. Now I'm thrilled!
But a little confused. I thought one purpose for traction was the hydration of the discs and surely the inversion table shouldn't place as much stress as a horizontal traction table, which have hurt my lower back in the past when another DC tried it, although it did wonders for my neck. In fact, I have a "Posture Pump" for my neck that helps me a lot, as does my TENS unit.
I do thank you also for your concern about my blood pressure, which is typically good, but I will start checking before inverting from now on, just in case.
Let me confess that as many times as I had read your newsletter, I had not noticed your books, but I now intend to order soon. And I'll also make sure my DC knows about the site. Please do stay well yourself and thanks again.

Dear Alvey,
The dynamics of horizontal and vertical traction are different. Similar yet different. So, one might help, another not.

As a general rule, traction, probably both types, would help with facet syndromes. But with disc syndromes you have to be more careful. The postero-medial disc bulge is often aggravated by traction.

I'll have to peddle my books more shamelessly in my newsletter!

Have a fijn weekend.


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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mrs B has had one of the nastiest of conditions; vertigo caused by a disturbance in the inner ear. Falling repeatedly and vomiting she consulted her doctor but medication didn't help. After two sessions of the Epley manoeuvres she was 50 percent better. After two weeks she was 75 percent improved; no longer vomiting or falling. She's not enjoying the Brandt Daroff home exercises.

2. Mr S, a 48 year old man, has right low back pain, groin pain and a numb feeling in his lower leg when he sports. For six months he's been off football. He too has two problems; a very treatable lumbar facet syndrome and a very serious blocked artery in the groin; it's called intermittent claudication. Smokers beware.  

3. Mr S looks like the leaning tower of Pisa; he has a slipped disc at L5 making him lean towards the opposite side. It's called the postero lateral disc hernia; we'll fix it, but he has to stop for a week or two. Antalgias are serious so take them seriously. 

4. Mrs V too has two conditions; a chronic low grade sciatica giving her an ache in the right leg, and a threatening Morton's neuroma. She's glad I'm back in Holland; chiropractic fixed it before, and we'll fix it again. 

5. Mrs W is one of the lucky ones, says her doctor. I agree. He says only 40% of patients with lumbar stenosis have a successful operation. We fixed a nasty slipped disc three years ago, but it came back two years later; the surgeon did a fine job but she has a weak ankle now giving her subtalar joint pain; it's routine stuff. 

6. I myself had an acute exacerbation of a femoral nerve lesion last year. One immediate treatment of the new strain by my colleague has fixed the pain in the lower back, but there's some residual numbness in the lower leg; no soaring tomorrow alas.

7. This lady is a 86 year old woman with a 63 scoliosis. Chronic lower back has been her lot in life but she's well pleased with chiropractic and comes for chiropractic help once a month; some conditions you can never cure.

8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.

9. A 61 year old man with upper cervical pain yesterday; it's not severe but also not getting better of its own accord. He's afraid it may turn very acute as when I treated him three years ago. Since then it's been fine. 

10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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Interesting questions from visitors

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Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

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Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.