I am currently going through this as well, and it is a tricky situation. I have had good luck with chiros in the past, and I am seeing one currently. He is very good being that he is knowledgeable about several different methods and continues to educate himself. He knows that I do a lot of research on my own, often on this site, and he is completely honest with me.
I had sciatica down my right leg, but no numbness. He had me doing Mackenzie exercises (Google this) which focus on de-loading your spine. These helped relieve the sciatica quite a bit as long as I consistently did them every day. They are named after an Australian physio named Robin Mackenzie.
But, once they stopped working he sent me for an MRI immediately. I have a herniated disc at L5/S1 that is degenerative, and mild herniations at L5/L4 and L4/L3. He sent me to my GP (general practitioner) for steroidal inflammatories (Medrol) to reduce some of the swelling, which worked a little bit.
Of course, my GP tried to send me to an orthopaedic surgeon right away to cut into me, but I politely declined. I am still working through it and getting better every day. For me the next step is an epidural, which is typically a cycle of three epidurals, if I don’t continue to improve.
I recently had a full cycle of X-rays on my lumbar, and they revealed that I have no side-to-side movement (I don’t recall the medical terminology) of my spine when bending forwards or back. After that, it would be spinal fusion or disc replacement, both of which aren’t particularly attractive options since the risk of back pain again down the road with both procedures is high.
I would treat this as your absolute last resort as there is no going back after you’ve had this done.
I have tried ART and it has helped, I constantly strengthen my core, concentrate on posture, get massages, ice, and may try acupuncture. My suggestion would be to educate yourself (spine-health.com & texasback.com are both very good) and exhaust all means of treatment.
I think going to an orthopod or a neurosurgeon (which would probably be better) is still a good idea if you know that you are not going to one that is a “cutter”. Call your chiro and see who he would suggest, I’m sure he/she has a good one.
Be careful who your GP tells you because they often will refer each other business and personally I am more distrustful of them since they don’t have a grasp of the back (and are very conservative) as well as a chiro does.
Best of luck, and if you have any questions, let me know.