Clifton & Shirehampton Osteopaths - SCIATICA


What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is specifically nerve pain, which can radiate, giving symptoms down the posterior aspect of either leg, from the thigh, through the calf and into the foot.

This pain is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, where it’s nerve roots or branches exit through several small openings between the lumbar vertebrae.

There may be numbness and weakness of the lower leg muscles and loss of reflexes.


Sciatica and Low back pain                                                    

Sciatica (compression of part of the sciatic nerve resulting in leg pain etc.) is often combined with low back pain. The order in which the symptoms appear may vary.  Back pain often precedes sciatica but this is not always the case.


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Causes and Effects

The most common cause of true ‘acute’ sciatica is a ‘slipped’ (prolapsed, herniated or bulging) disc.


The discs (inter-vertebral discs) are the cushions which separate the bones of the spine (vertebrae).
The bulging disc causes the nerve root to become compressed where it exits the spine by squashing it against the adjacent boney structure.

This causes a decrease in the nerve’s ability to conduct properly – resulting in pain, tingling, numbness, or loss of muscular control (in order of increasing severity)


Other causes may include; Boney degeneration, arthritis, osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis or a tumor of either bone or nerve.

Sciatica may cause the sufferer’s posture to be distorted – by bending forward or sideways in an attempt to avoid further nerve compression and pain.

Osteopathic treatment is very effective in resolving the majority of cases, by helping
reduce the irritation of the nerve using a variety of treatment techniques, exercises and postural advice.


When clinical examination indicates the possibility of a large disc prolapse with major neurological signs and symptoms, an MRI scan can be arranged along with rapid specialist neurosurgical referral.



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