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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jill King

Heels and Sciatica


By Christina DeBusk April 20, 2022


For patients dealing with issues from sciatica and high heels, keeping the heel height under two inches can help...


As many as 43% of people will develop sciatica at some point in their lifetime. For some, the pain is severe enough to limit their participation in everyday activities, even reducing their quality of life. One recognized trigger of this pain that often extends down the back of the leg is the combination of pain from sciatica and high heels.


While choosing lower-heeled shoes can provide some relief, another option is chiropractic care, enabling patients to continue to enjoy their favorite pair of heels without instigating sciatic issues.


Sciatica and high heels

Wearing heels shifts the body’s weight forward. This changes the curvature of the spine, placing more stress on the lower back, and also stretching the hamstring muscles that run down the back of the upper thigh. Both factors can trigger inflammation and irritation of the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling that often radiates from the lower back to the foot.


Seemingly, the solution for easing this pain is to avoid high-heeled footwear altogether. For some patients, this is an effective option. Others may not be as willing to let go of their favorite heels, even if it means a reduction in sciatic pain. Individuals in the latter group may benefit from a protocol of chiropractic care to combat sciatica and high heels.


Chiropractic for sciatica

Chiropractic helps support sciatic nerve health by restoring proper spinal alignment. If the nerve is pinched or compressed due to spinal misalignment, manipulation can correct this issue. Proper alignment also enables the body to more naturally heal any inflammation or irritation that is provoking sciatic issues.


Research suggests that chiropractic is more effective for resolving this musculoskeletal issue than other treatment remedies. For example, in one study, 60 patients with L5-S1 disc herniation resulting in unilateral lumbosacral radiculopathy were split into two groups. The first group received treatment via neural mobilization techniques. The second group received lumbar manipulation. At six weeks post-treatment, the lumbar manipulation group had greater improvements in leg pain, disability, and nerve root compression. Results were published in the European Journal of Scientific Research.


Another study, this one published in Manual Therapy, indicates that other factors may contribute to patient satisfaction and treatment when seeking chiropractic care for back-related leg pain. Researchers learned that patients valued the quality of their interactions with the health care provider and the sharing of important information, citing that both contributed to their satisfaction levels and made the treatment more worthwhile.


Shoe advice for greater sciatic nerve health

For patients dealing with issues from sciatica and high heels, keeping the heel height under two inches can help. The shoe should also fit properly to prevent the feet from sliding forward, causing the spine to compensate by shifting the body’s weight forward as well.


Limiting the time spent in high-heeled shoes is also beneficial. This could involve wearing flatter heels when traveling to and from work or when running errands, saving the higher heels for during the workday or wearing them only when attending important meetings.



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