Osteopathic Care For Sciatica

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is pain arising in the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, running from the spinal cord down through the buttock and the back of each leg to the foot. Sciatic pain is most often caused by abnormal pressure on the nerve roots in the spinal cord.

Diagnosis of Sciatica

Sciatica is a relatively common condition, with estimates suggesting that as many as 40% of people will experience it at some point in their lives. You may already have been diagnosed with Sciatica by your GP or you may be wondering if the pain you are experiencing is Sciatica. Osteopaths are specialists in this disorder and as part of your initial examination and consultation will perform various simple nerve tests in order to accurately assess whether or not you have Sciatica.

Symptoms vary from individual to individual but, characteristically there is lower back pain and referred pain down the leg. This may be dull, achy, sharp, toothache-like, pins and needles or similar to electric shocks. It is usually just in one leg, but occasionally can affect both. Other symptoms associated with sciatica include burning, numbness and tingling sensations. Sciatica is also called radiating or referred pain, lumbar radiculopathy, neuropathy or neuralgia.

Sciatica is often caused by sciatic nerve compression and can also be described as a trapped nerve. In most cases, the sciatic nerve is trapped by either a bulging or 'slipped' disc or by boney encroachment due to wear and tear.

A thorough examination is essential before treatment can begin, since without due care, it's far too easy to aggravate an already irritated sciatic nerve. When your Osteopath has completed his consultation and examination, he should be able to tell you which nerve root is irritated and target treatment accordingly.

Osteopathy for the Treatment of Sciatica

The current NICE guidelines for the management of lower back pain with or without Sciatica recommend a course of Manual Therapy combined with exercise. Osteopaths are one of the few professionals trained to provide this specific type of manual therapy along with our integral advice on exercises tailored to you.  We regularly receive  GP referrals for Sciatica and lower back pain from many practices in the area.

Whilst surgery is an appropriate intervention in only 10% of long term cases, most people prefer to avoid surgery until all other options have been explored. Many consider Osteopathy to be a form of complementary medicine, but most of our clients feel that Osteopathic Therapy is the only real alternative.

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Sciatica Diagram