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. Mr B  came initially for a painful and stiff neck and then asked whether chiropractic could help the cold numb feeling running down the side of his thigh for six months. Meralgia paresthetica is a double crush syndrome with the nerve affected in the back and groin. He's 80% improved after five treatments.

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3. Mrs U has the trophy for the worst back this year. After major surgery with plates and screws two years later she still had paresis in the lower leg and severe disabling back pain. She's doing far better than expected, in no little part due to a lift in her shoe for a very short leg.

4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.

5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.

6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of her foot. It started after a long drive in the car. After six treatments she is 60 percent better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal.

And now a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.

7. This lady is a 70 year old woman, is on maintenance care for a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection after a total shoulder replacement. After four operations he is incapacitated.

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. This man is a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. I reassured him it's not hip arthritis.

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. Mr 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. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.

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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