Sciatica

Physical Therapy for Sciatica in Brighton

Person with sciatica

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to pain arising from the sciatic nerve, usually from the lumbar spine or lower back. It's typically described as a burning, stabbing, or shooting pain down the leg.

Sciatica can present with weakness, tingling, and numbness as well as pain. The typical distribution of these symptoms extends from the lower back or buttock into the legs and feet. People tend to feel more pain in the leg than in the back.

Treatments include medication, exercise, manual therapy, and in some cases surgery depending on the type and severity of the condition.

Person with sciatic pain and physical therapist holding model spine

Types of Sciatica

Acute Sciatica

Acute sciatica refers to a recent episode of sciatica pain, lasting 4-8 weeks. This can be very painful and can range from infrequent and irritating to severe and debilitating.

Chronic Sciatica

Chronic Sciatica is sciatic pain that lasts longer than 8 weeks and where self-help measures have not helped. Consulting a healthcare professional to find out what is causing the sciatica is the best approach to explore the best treatment options available.

Bilateral Sciatica and Cauda Equina

Bilateral Sciatica is sciatic pain that extends down both legs. This can be a cause for concern as it could indicate an emergency spinal condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome. This is where the nerves at the end of your spinal cord are compressed and this requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated it could lead to permanent neurological symptoms affecting the function of the lower limbs as well as bowel and bladder function. This is a rare condition and it affects around one to three in 100,000 people. Spinal stenosis can also cause bilateral sciatica which is a narrowing of the canals where the nerves run through.

Person with pain and physical therapist

How Is Sciatica Treated?

Surgery

In very severe cases of sciatica, surgery may be recommended if non-surgical approaches have not helped. If Cauda Equina is suspected then surgery will be advised to prevent any permanent neurological symptoms.

Exercises

Returning to your normal activities when you feel able to is advised when you have sciatica. Exercises can help to ease your pain and are best prescribed by a healthcare professional after it's determined what is causing your sciatica. 

Medication

Sometimes medication can help you manage your pain. These typically have to be prescribed by a doctor and will likely be a form of nerve pain medication. If you have a diagnosis of sciatica your doctor will advise the best type of medication based on your medical history

Physical Therapy

In the cases of acute and chronic sciatica physical therapy is used to help manage the condition by reducing the tension in muscles surrounding the spine and helping to reduce the pain caused in other parts of the body as a result of the sciatica.

Treatment aims to reduce pressure on the nerve by off-loading the area with hands-on techniques in the spine, exercises to glide the nerve, and advice on sleep, lifestyle and activity.

Osteopathic treatment session

Our Approach to Sciatica Treatment

At JG Osteopaths we provide specialist physical therapy for sciatica at our Brighton clinic.

Osteopathy is a non-invasive physical therapy that can help manage all types of non-emergency sciatica. We are Allied Health Professionals and are registered with the GOsC and some osteopaths are registered with the iO. You can learn more on our about osteopathy page.

Expert Advice

As well as providing specialist treatment to help with your sciatica, we can also give you advice on living with your condition and expert advice on things like choosing the best mattress or chair, and on working or sleeping with sciatica. We are Primary Healthcare Practitioners, which is the same as G.Ps, dentists, and nurses meaning we can assess you and refer you to the correct type of treatment if osteopathy is not suitable for your needs.

Booking Your First Appointment

At your first appointment we will will carry out a comprehensive assessment of your condition. We will explain our diagnosis and treatment plan and how many sessions we think you will need before proceeding to treatment. We pride ourselves in treating the person behind the problem, and aim to make sure you feel involved and listened-to at every stage of the treatment process.

Book an Appointment

Booking and appointment is quick and easy using our online system. Use the button below to go to our booking page where you can select the time that suits you and book online. 

If you have any questions or want to speak to us before booking, don't hesitate to call us on 07812528049 or email contact@jgosteopaths.com.

Woman using laptop and family in background

Useful Links

The US pain foundation provides support and information to people living with sciatica

Champions charity provide advice and support for anyone who has been diagnosed and treated for Cauda Equina Syndrome

Back strong provides advice and support for individuals suffering with sciatica, back pain, and all spinal health-related conditions

You can also find further information on sciatica from Spine HealthOrthInfoWebMD and the NHS.

Jonathan Gaffney, Osteopath

About The Author

The information on this page was written by Jonathan Gaffney, a qualified Osteopath registered with the General Osteopathic Council.