Sciatica and Leg Pain

Cartoon of a man with low back and sciatica pain

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica simply means irritation of the sciatic nerve. This often causes symptoms such as low back or buttock pain that radiates down the back of the legs, sometimes all the way to the foot but often just to the hamstring or calf areas. The pain can often be accompanied by pins and needles down the leg, or sometimes even numbness and weakness.

Normally sciatica improves within a 4-6 week timeframe, however it can sometimes be a lot longer than this.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica produces pain and other symptoms due to something pressing or rubbing on the sciatic nerve. This pressing or rubbing can be related to a specific injury, but sciatica can also develop over a longer time frame without a pre-existing injury. This can often be very confusing and worrying but shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. Things that can cause sciatica include:

  • Injuries to the discs between the vertebra in our spine
  • Spinal stenosis – an age related process whereby the part of the spine where nerves pass through becomes narrowed
  • A build up of muscular tension in the buttock which then irritates the sciatic nerve
  • Other back injuries

Whatever the cause of your sciatica, there is a lot that can be done to help reduce the irritation on the nerve and reduce your pain levels and other symptoms.

Can Chiropractor’s Help Sciatica?

Yes! Chiropractor’s can help sciatica! An important step in working out how to help patients with sciatica is trying to understand what the underlying cause of the sciatica might be. 

This allows us to target the treatment at the true cause, allowing long term improvement and injury prevention to occur, rather than just masking the symptoms. Therefore, the exact treatment you might experience for your sciatica will differ to someone else’s. 

Seeing as Chiropractors are expertly trained to assess and treat problems related to the musculoskeletal system, we can help with all of the causes of sciatica mentioned above.

What Treatment Do We Do For Sciatica?

Chiropractic care doesn’t describe one specific treatment but includes the whole package of care. At Pro Chiro, we often treat our sciatica patients with a combination of joint manipulation, soft tissue release and massage, as well as corrective exercises. This combination not only helps to reduce pain in the short term but also helps to get rid of the problem for good.

Treatment Techniques Used For Sciatica

Josh French, Surrey chiropractor and clinical director of Pro Chiro spine and Sports Chiropractic, performing a spinal adjustment on a patient with low back pain.

Spinal Joint Adjustments

We use adjustments to improve the movement through any stiff joints in the spine and also other joints such as the foot and ankle.

Instrumented assisted soft tissue release performed by josh french Sports chiropractor

Soft Tissue Releases

There are various soft tissue release techniques we use for Sciatica, including instrumented assisted releases such as in the picture. 

Home exercise given by josh french surrey chiropractor

Corrective Exercises

Performing exercises at home is an essential step in your road to recovery. Home exercises will help to strengthen the painful area and stop it from becoming injured again in the future.

This video shows our favourite exercises to perform at home. Doing these exercises will help you to recover from Sciatica.

Can Sciatica be a serious problem?

Sciatica can be very painful but is normally nothing to worry about. However, there are several symptoms that could indicate the problem is something much more serious. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should phone 999 or go to A and E:

  • Sciatica on both sides
  • Weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe and getting worse
  • Numbness under or around your genitals or anus
  • Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine, or lack of control when you pee
  • Not noticing when you need to poo or not being able to control when you poo

These could be symptoms of a serious back problem that needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage occurring. This would be very rare, but it is worth being safe than sorry when it comes to your health!