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.

Dr. B

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 S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

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

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

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 should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Have a problem that is not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

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 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is 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 a DC does.

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 will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.