I do feel for you if you have sciatic pain or sciatica.  It is often a horrible, persistent pain.  You might not know what to do with yourself.

What causes sciatica

It is a very common scenario in my work.  Someone comes in with horrible pain in their leg on one side.  It might have started after lots of gardening with too much digging or fighting a stubborn root-ball. Maybe it started after that long drive for work.  Perhaps it started for no reason that you can think of.

You may be experiencing your sciatic pain as a ‘gnawing’, ‘toothache’. ‘burning’, ‘constant ache’. It is usually down the back of the thigh and into the calf and foot. Maybe your big toe has gone numb or has pins and needles.  Your sciatic nerve is probably being irritated somewhere.

The big sciatic nerve, which is as thick as your thumb, originates in your lower back. It then passes through your pelvis, near to some very busy hip muscles, and then further down into you leg. So the job of your therapist is to find out where the nerve is being irritated.

A bulging disc in your back, tight hip muscles or a changing shape of your spine can all cause sciatica. There are other causes too  – that is why it is best see a qualified practitioner about your concerns.

How an osteopath can help you

Osteopaths are highly qualified Allied Health Professionals who will be able to look after you – take a careful case-history, examine and diagnose your problem.

I like discussing with my patients the cause of symptoms and what they can expect of treatment. That often helps people relax about their pain.  If you are happy you are then ready to start to feel better with hands-on care.  Ask lots of questions if you need to.  Voice your concerns and get as much advice as you can. This can be about sitting at work, lifting the grandchildren or walking the dog. They might seem like petty issues but they are also probably a vital part of your life.

A scan is often not needed and in many cases maintaining normal activities is your best bet.

Strong medication is no longer recommended but, in some cases, a consultation with your GP might be needed.  They may be able to discuss with you about referrals to your local physio team or a specialist.

NICE  – the body that recommends healthcare treatments in the UK  – has published its protocols for managing sciatica.  They are available here should you wish to part-take in a little light reading!

What next

Hopefully after a few treatments you will start to feel better and normality will resume for you. It can take several months to settle in some cases though. You may have exercises to do and it is usually best to keep these going.

I hope that is a helpful run down.  Any questions, do call send me a message via the Contact Us page. I will do my best to help you.




Gail Crump, osteopath for 18 years

‘I have treated all variants of sciatic pain’