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What is sciatica?


One of the most common problems patients come to see me about is back pain associated with pins and needles, pain, or numbness in a leg. We refer to these symptoms in the leg as sciatica.

What causes sciatica?

The most common cause is a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc in the low back, which then causes pressure on the nerve root. But any compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can result in sciatica.

The sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the body, running from your pelvis, through your buttocks, and down both legs. So, it’s no surprise that they can often cause problems.

Sciatica is the name given to any pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

Who can get it?

It is possible for anyone to develop sciatica and reports suggest that up to 40% of people will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime. However, the condition is most common in people aged between 30 and 50, with a male to female ratio of 2:1.

Can it be treated?

Disc injuries can be treated with a combination of “hands-on” mobilisation of the disc and home exercises to take pressure off the nerve.

Treatment is very effective, and most people with sciatica go on to make a full recovery.

Is it preventable?

While it may not always be possible to prevent a disc injury, you can reduce your risk by:

  1. Lifting correctly, with your back straight, using your legs to power the lift
  2. Avoiding sitting for long periods
  3. Taking regular exercise to strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and the back, which support the spine
  4. Trying to maintain good posture when sitting and standing

How can I help?

If you’re suffering from sciatica, I can help relieve the pain through a combination of chiropractic care and postural exercises.

If you’re not sure that you have sciatica but you recognise some of the symptoms above, get in touch for a consultation.