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How Osteopaths Treat Sciatica

Sciatica is a very common injury that many people suffer from, and this blog is to give an indication of how Osteopaths help treat Sciatica. Sciatica is an umbrella term used to describe pain along the sciatic nerve, which originates from the lower back and extends down the leg. The  nerve runs through the hip socket and can get pinched when you extend your leg or lie on it. This pinching of the sciatic nerve causes pain in your hips and legs. 

What is Sciatica?

Is an umbrella term used to describe pain along the sciatic nerve, which originates from the lower back and extends down the leg. The sciatic nerve runs through the hip socket and can get pinched when you extend your leg or lie on it. This pinching of the sciatic nerve causes pain in your hips and legs. There are other conditions that can resemble sciatica as well, so it’s important to rule them out before you start treating your ailment.

What are the symptoms ?

There are a few common symptoms that can indicate that you have sciatica. These include leg pain in the back or lower buttocks, numbness in your legs and/or feet, tingling sensation when you walk, a feeling of tightness and heaviness in the hips and pelvis, muscle weakness in your legs, swelling of the lower back or buttocks, and a feeling of excessive weight on one side of your pelvis. If you experience sciatica symptoms, it is important to seek medical treatment from an osteopath as soon as possible.

Are disc problems always the cause?

Sciatica is not always related to disc problems. It can also be due to root compression or a pinched nerve. When sciatica is caused by the spine, it’s usually due to a herniated or prolapsed disc. Herniated discs are also known as ruptured disks, which can occur when there is trauma to the area such as a fall or a twist. Osteopaths use manual therapies (MET) in order to reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area, including the hips and lower back. When there is sciatica, they put more pressure on the affected areas of your body, which typically helps bring relief from pain and allow you to move more freely.

What sorts of  treatment are there

If you are feeling pain in your lower back or buttocks, hips or legs then anti Inflammatory drugs and medications such as cocodamol can bring some termporary relief. If this doesnt work then Injections around the disc may give temporary relief but there is no evidence this works any better than Osteopathy or manual treatment in the long term, but may give short term relief. If nothing helps then decompressive surgery can be perfromed where disc material is taken away. There are some situations where this is a necessity, if the disc is compressing a bag of nerves called the cauda equina but this is thankfuly rare , but I have come across this on a number of ocassions.

Osteopathy can help

Osteopaths can help in three ways

1. Identify and treat trigger points awhere muscles become hyperactive and very painful to touch. Trigger points are caused by compression of the lumbar spine, which is usually due to wear and tear on the bone from years of poor posture or repetitive movements in your job. When we encounter a trigger point, we can release the stress on it by applying MET techniques. 

2. Apply deep tissue work such as longitudinal traction, for people who need more deep tissue work, Osteopaths can use MET techniques like longitudinal traction to help open up tight muscles in your back or soften adhesions that have formed in your muscle tissue because of trauma or injury.

3. Use mobilisation techniques to the lumbar spine to free joints and help create space for the nerves. 

How long will it take to get better?

When a patient is suffering from sciatica, the Osteopath will take a detailed history and perform an examination. The Osteopath will then identify the cause of the pain, which could be lumbar compression. To help relieve symptoms, the Osteopath will apply MET to trigger points that may be causing your discomfort. If successful, it may only take minutes for you to experience relief from your symptoms. Every patient is unique and every ailment is unique as well. You don’t need to live with pain for long if you opt for osteopathic treatment from an experienced Osteopath in your area. Let an osteopathic doctor help you get back on your feet or back into the saddle again with their extensive knowledge and skill set!


Sciatica is a painful chronic condition that can affect the sciatic nerve. It often occurs due to disc problems. The symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness along the course of the nerve in the lower back. Sciatica can be treated with physical therapy and osteopathy.


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Laurens Holve

Laurens Holve has over 35 years experience as a Healthcare Practitioner specialising in both Osteopathy and Acupuncture practicing in North London and Woking, Surrey.

He trained in Osteopathic Medicine in London and studied Acupuncture in London and China where he worked and gained clinical experience in a hospital in Shanghai.

He helps people quickly get back to health by using his many years of study and experience employing different techniques to help reduce pain, increase mobility and improve health.