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Sciatica Treatment in North London & Woking

Osteopathy and Acupuncture treatment for Sciatica in North London and Woking

Regarding Your Sciatic Pain

  • Are you losing your battle with sciatica?
  • Is it stopping you from getting out and about?
  • Is it painful walking?
  • Is it starting to get you down?
  • Are you worried?
  • Go through the pain points of sciatica.
  • Then and only then talk about your approach.

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What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition that involves pain caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and down each leg. When this nerve becomes irritated or compressed, it can lead to symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling.

The severity of sciatica pain can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as muscle weakness or difficulty in moving the affected leg. The pain may be constant or intermittent and can worsen with certain activities such as sitting or standing for long periods, bending or lifting heavy objects, or even coughing or sneezing.

The most common cause of sciatica is a compressed nerve in the lower spine. This compression is often the result of a herniated disc or a bone spur. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of a spinal disc bulges or ruptures, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves. A bone spur, also known as osteophyte, is a bony growth that can form on the edges of the vertebrae and cause narrowing of the spinal canal.

Other less common causes of sciatica include tumors or diseases such as diabetes. Tumors can compress the sciatic nerve and lead to pain, while diabetes can cause nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy, which can affect the sciatic nerve.

It is important to consult an Osteopath, or other Healthcare Professional if you experience symptoms of sciatica. They can perform a thorough examination and diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of your pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment options for sciatica may include medication, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, epidural steroid injections, or in severe cases, surgery.

A diagram illustrating hip pain in the spinal cord.

Key Sciatica Points

• Sciatica is caused by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
• The pain can vary in severity and may be accompanied by other symptoms.
• The most common cause of sciatica is a compressed nerve in the lower spine.
• Herniated discs and bone spurs are common culprits of nerve compression.
• Less common causes include tumors or diseases such as diabetes.

Understanding the underlying cause of your sciatica is crucial in developing an effective treatment plan. By seeking medical attention and following the recommended treatment, you can alleviate your pain and improve your quality of life.

A bald man about a cabinet.

About Me

Qualified Practitioner with 40 Years Experience

Laurens Holve is a leading osteopath and acupuncturist with clinics in Highgate, North London and Woking, Surrey. Laurens has 40 years experience treating patients with sciatica. He also treats many similar problems such as back pain and hip pain, and other chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

As well as specialist treatment, Laurens also provides expert advice on managing your condition and living with sciatica, including advice on the best mattress or chair for you, personalised exercises and stretches, and the use of self-treatment.

We treat patients using both osteopathy and acupuncture, combining treatments such as spinal manipulation, myofascial release and dry needling, ensuring a holistic and personalised approach to treating your sciatica.

Risk Factors for Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that causes pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the hips and down each leg. While the exact cause of sciatica is often difficult to pinpoint, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this condition. By understanding and addressing these risk factors, individuals may be able to reduce their risk of sciatica.

Age

One of the primary risk factors for sciatica is age. As we get older, the discs in our spine naturally degenerate and lose their cushioning ability. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and lead to pain and discomfort. It is important to note that while age is a risk factor, not everyone will experience sciatica as they age.

Obesity

Obesity is another risk factor for sciatica. Excess weight can put added pressure on the spinal discs and nerves, increasing the likelihood of irritation. Additionally, obesity is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, which can worsen the symptoms of sciatica.

Occupation

Occupation plays a role in the development of sciatica for many individuals. Jobs that require long periods of standing or sitting in one position can put strain on the back and contribute to the compression of the sciatic nerve. People in physically demanding occupations, such as construction workers or nurses, may also be at a higher risk due to the repetitive movements and heavy lifting involved in their work.

Prolonged Sitting

Not only can a sedentary lifestyle associated with obesity increase the risk of sciatica, but prolonged sitting itself is a risk factor. Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to muscle imbalances and poor posture, both of which can increase the pressure on the sciatic nerve and contribute to the development of sciatica.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that affects the body’s ability to properly regulate blood sugar levels. Research has shown that individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of developing sciatica. It is believed that this increased risk is due to the impact of diabetes on nerve function and blood circulation.

Reducing Your Risk of Sciatica

While these risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing sciatica, there are steps individuals can take to help reduce their risk and manage the condition:

Maintaining a Healthy Weight: By maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet, individuals can reduce the strain on their spine and decrease the risk of sciatica.
Avoiding Prolonged Sitting: Taking breaks from sitting, practicing good posture, and using ergonomic chairs or standing desks can help alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve and reduce the risk of developing sciatica.
Exercises: Engaging in exercises that target all the muscles can help stabilize the spine and provide support, reducing the risk of sciatica.
Practicing Proper Lifting Techniques: When lifting heavy objects, it is important to use proper lifting techniques to avoid putting excessive strain on the back and potentially irritating the sciatic nerve.
Seeking Prompt Treatment: If symptoms of sciatica arise, seeking prompt medical treatment can help prevent the condition from worsening and alleviate pain and discomfort.

Sciatica can be a debilitating condition, but by understanding the risk factors and taking proactive steps to reduce these risks, individuals can potentially lower their chances of developing sciatica. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good ergonomics, and seeking timely medical care, individuals can reduce the impact of sciatica on their daily lives.

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Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. It runs from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. When this nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause a variety of symptoms. Here are the main symptoms of sciatica:

Shooting Pain Along the Sciatic Nerve

The most common and distinctive symptom of sciatica is shooting pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. This pain can be sharp, intense, and debilitating. It typically starts in the lower back or buttocks and travels down the back of the leg, sometimes reaching all the way to the foot.

Individuals with sciatica often describe the pain as a burning sensation or electric shock. It may worsen with movement, such as sitting, standing, or walking, and can be accompanied by muscle weakness in the affected leg.

Numbness and Tingling in the Leg and Feet

In addition to pain, sciatica can also cause numbness and tingling sensations in the leg and feet. This occurs because the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve disrupts the normal flow of nerve signals to the affected areas.

These sensations may feel like pins and needles or a tingling “buzzing” feeling. The numbness can be localized to specific areas or may extend throughout the leg. Some individuals may experience a loss of sensation, making it difficult to feel touch, temperature, or pain in the affected leg and foot.

Varying Intensity and Duration of Symptoms

The symptoms of sciatica can vary in intensity and duration. Some individuals may experience mild, intermittent pain and tingling, while others may have severe and constant symptoms that significantly impact their daily activities.

The intensity of the pain can also range from a mild ache to a sharp, excruciating sensation. It is important to note that symptoms may come and go, and individuals may have periods of relief followed by flare-ups of increased pain and discomfort.

The duration of sciatica symptoms can also vary. For some individuals, the pain and other symptoms may resolve within a few weeks or months with conservative treatments. However, for others, the symptoms may persist for longer periods, requiring medical intervention or surgery.

It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms to confirm a diagnosis of sciatica and determine the appropriate course of treatment. Prompt treatment can help alleviate pain and prevent further complications.

Remember, the main symptoms of sciatica include shooting pain along the sciatic nerve, numbness and tingling in the leg and feet, and varying intensity and duration of symptoms.

Experiences of Osteopathic Treatment for Sciatica

These individuals have kindly shared their experience of osteopathic treatment for sciatica at our London clinic.

Philip

Dulcie

Diagnosis of Sciatica

Diagnosing sciatica can be challenging due to its varying symptoms and shared characteristics with other conditions. However, with a thorough physical exam and the appropriate use of imaging tests, healthcare professionals can accurately diagnose sciatica and determine the underlying cause of the pain. Let’s take a closer look at the diagnostic methods commonly employed for identifying and confirming sciatica.

Physical Examination

A physical examination is usually the first step in diagnosing sciatica. During this exam, the healthcare provider will assess the patient’s medical history and perform a thorough evaluation of the back, hips, legs, and feet. This helps to identify any potential signs of nerve compression or indicators of an underlying condition causing sciatic nerve irritation.

The physical exam may involve evaluating the patient’s range of motion, muscle strength, sensation, and reflexes. The healthcare provider will also look for any specific signs that suggest sciatica, such as pain radiating down the leg or worsening pain with certain movements.

Imaging Tests

In addition to a physical exam, imaging tests are often utilized to support the diagnosis of sciatica. These tests provide detailed images of the spine and surrounding structures, helping to identify the root cause of the sciatic nerve compression. The most common imaging tests used for diagnosing sciatica include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and electromyography.

X-rays

X-rays can reveal bone abnormalities, such as bone spurs or fractures, which may be contributing to the compression of the sciatic nerve. By visualizing the bony structures, X-rays help healthcare professionals determine if structural issues are causing the symptoms of sciatica.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan provides detailed images of the soft tissues, including the spinal discs, nerves, and surrounding structures. This imaging test is highly effective in detecting herniated discs, which are one of the most common causes of sciatica. The MRI can help determine the exact location and severity of the disc herniation, aiding in treatment planning.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

CT scans provide cross-sectional images of the spine and can help identify bone abnormalities, such as fractures, tumors, or infections. This imaging method is particularly useful when there is a suspicion of structural abnormalities contributing to the sciatic nerve compression.

Electromyography

Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves. It is used to evaluate the function of the sciatic nerve and identify any nerve abnormalities or damage. By placing small electrodes on the skin or inserting needle electrodes into specific muscles, EMG can help determine if a nerve disorder is causing the symptoms of sciatica.

Proper diagnosis of sciatica is crucial to develop an effective treatment plan and provide relief to patients experiencing this debilitating condition. A combination of a thorough physical exam and the appropriate use of imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and electromyography allows healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose sciatica and identify the underlying cause. Prompt diagnosis enables targeted treatment, facilitating a faster recovery and improved quality of life for individuals suffering from sciatica.

Treatment Options for Sciatica

Treatment options for sciatica include:

• Osteopathy
• Acupuncture
• Medications NSAIDS, or Opiates
• Steroid injections
• Surgery

Medications

Medications are often the first line of treatment for sciatica pain. They can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, relax muscles, and relieve any associated depression or anxiety. Commonly prescribed medications for sciatica include:

• Anti-inflammatories: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
• Muscle relaxants: These medications can help relax the muscles and reduce muscle spasms, which can contribute to sciatic nerve compression.
• Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help with pain relief and also have a positive effect on any associated depression or anxiety.

Osteopathy

Osteopathy plays a crucial role in the treatment of sciatica. A skilled Osteopath can provide specific exercises and stretches to help reduce pain, improve mobility, strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, and correct any postural imbalances that may be contributing to the condition. Osteopathy can also help with rehabilitation and preventing future injuries.

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections, also known as corticosteroid injections, can be administered directly into the affected area to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. These injections are typically targeted at the site of nerve compression and can provide temporary or long-lasting relief depending on the individual. It’s important to note that steroid injections are not a cure for sciatica but can be a helpful adjunct to other treatment modalities.

Surgery

Surgery for sciatica is usually reserved for severe cases where conservative treatments have failed to provide relief or when there are significant neurological deficits such as weakness or loss of bladder or bowel control. The goal of surgery is to decompress the nerve root and address the underlying cause of the compression. Common surgical procedures for sciatica include discectomy (removal of a herniated disc), laminectomy (removal of part of the vertebral bone), or spinal fusion.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment options for your specific case of sciatica. Treatment plans may vary depending on the severity of symptoms, underlying causes, and individual factors. With proper treatment and care, most people find relief from sciatica and are able to resume their daily activities without significant pain or discomfort.

Diagnosing and Assessing Sciatica with Osteopathy

Assessing and diagnosing sciatica through an osteopathic approach is a crucial aspect of managing this condition effectively. Osteopathy, with its holistic focus on the body as a whole, offers unique insights and treatment approaches for individuals suffering from sciatica. By thoroughly evaluating the patient’s medical history, conducting physical examinations, and performing various diagnostic tests, osteopaths can accurately assess the underlying cause of sciatica.

During the assessment process, an osteopath will examine not only the affected area but also adjacent regions to identify any potential contributing factors. They will evaluate the spine alignment, muscle tone and function, range of motion, neurological sensitivity, and overall posture to understand how different elements may be interconnected or exacerbating symptoms. A comprehensive diagnosis provides a foundation for developing customized treatment plans that address both immediate relief and long-term management strategies.

To diagnose sciatica utilizing an osteopathic approach means considering various potential causes beyond just a compressed nerve. It involves understanding interrelated bodily structures such as muscles, ligaments, joints, and fascia when assessing pain patterns along the sciatic nerve pathway. This broader perspective enables osteopaths to unveil hidden sources of compression or inflammation that might have been overlooked in traditional diagnoses. With their professional expertise and detailed evaluation methods specifically designed for musculoskeletal conditions like sciatica – which often has multifactorial origins – osteopaths can provide patients with accurate diagnoses leading to effective treatment outcomes.

Managing Sciatica with Osteopathy

The mechanism of osteopathy in sciatica management involves a holistic approach to the treatment and management of sciatic pain. Osteopathic practitioners believe that the body has an inherent ability to heal itself, and their goal is to facilitate this natural healing process.

Osteopathy focuses on restoring proper alignment and function of the musculoskeletal system, which can often be disrupted in cases of sciatica. By using various manual techniques such as manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, and stretching exercises, osteopaths aim to release tension and improve mobility in affected areas.

One key aspect of osteopathic treatment for sciatica is addressing any structural imbalances or dysfunctions that may be contributing to the condition. This could involve realigning the spine or correcting posture issues that put unnecessary stress on the sciatic nerve.

Additionally, osteopathy takes into consideration other factors that may affect nerve health such as poor circulation or muscle imbalances. Through gentle techniques like lymphatic drainage or myofascial release, osteopaths aim to improve blood flow and promote optimal nerve function.

Overall, by considering both structural and systemic influences on sciatica symptoms, osteopathy offers a comprehensive approach to managing this condition effectively.

Alleviating Sciatica with Osteopathy

Osteopathic techniques have proven to be effective in alleviating sciatic nerve pain, offering relief for individuals suffering from this debilitating condition. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body, becomes compressed or irritated. This leads to radiating pain that starts in the lower back and travels down one leg.

In osteopathy, a holistic approach is taken towards treating sciatica. Osteopathic physicians focus on identifying and addressing any underlying structural imbalances or dysfunctions that may be contributing to the compression of the sciatic nerve. By manipulating these structures through hands-on techniques such as soft tissue stretching, joint mobilization, and muscle relaxation exercises, osteopaths aim to release tension and pressure on the affected nerves.

Furthermore, osteopathy promotes overall well-being by encouraging proper posture, strengthening core muscles, improving circulation, and reducing inflammation around the affected area. These additional benefits provide long-term relief from both acute episodes of sciatica as well as prevent recurrent flare-ups. With their expertise in musculoskeletal health combined with a comprehensive understanding of anatomical mechanics, osteopaths are valuable allies in managing sciatica effectively while promoting healing throughout the entire body.

Exercises for Sciatica

Fortunately, there are exercises that can help reduce the symptoms of sciatica and improve your overall health. There are different types of exercises designed specifically for sciatica sufferers. Here are some tips and advice on creating a successful exercise routine that is tailored to your needs. We hope you find this information useful and that it helps you on your journey to finding relief from sciatica.

Types of Exercises for Sciatica

Exercises are an important part of any treatment plan for sciatica, as they target the low back area that cause the symptoms and help to strengthen and stretch the affected area. There are a few different types of exercises that are beneficial for sciatica sufferers.

The first type of exercise is stretching exercises. These focus on stretching the muscles in the buttocks, hips, and thighs. This helps to reduce tension on the sciatic nerve and muscles, which can often be the source of the pain. Strengthening exercises are also beneficial, as they help to strengthen the muscles in the back and buttocks, which can improve posture and reduce the stress on the sciatic nerve. It is important to ensure that these exercises are done correctly, as incorrect technique can do more harm than good.

Aerobic exercise is benefical for your health , but it is best to avoid weight bearing exercises such as running, tennis , squash football. It is important to ensure that you do not over-exert yourself and that you are comfortable with the level of intensity you are working at.

Creating an Effective Exercise Routine for Sciatica

Creating an effective exercise routine for sciatica is essential to managing the symptoms of this condition. Exercises that focus on stretching, strengthening and improving posture can help to relieve sciatic nerve pain and improve overall mobility. Stretching is especially important, as it helps to reduce muscle tension around the sciatic nerve which can be a major cause of pain. Stretches should focus on the lower back and hips, as these are the areas most affected by sciatica. Strengthening exercises should target the core muscles, glutes and hamstrings in order to support the spine and provide relief from the pain. Finally, posture exercises can help to improve flexibility and reduce pain, as good posture can help to reduce the strain on the sciatic nerve.

When creating an exercise routine for sciatica, it is important to start slow and progress gradually. Try to do exercises every day, as this will help to build strength and flexibility over time. Begin with low impact exercises and increase the intensity as you feel comfortable. It is also a good idea to take regular breaks throughout your routine to ensure that you don’t overwork your body. Finally, be sure to speak with your doctor or Osteopath before you begin any new exercises to make sure they are safe for you. With a little bit of effort, it is possible to create an effective exercise routine that will help you find relief from sciatica and improve your overall health.

Surgical Treatment for Sciatica

When conservative treatments fail to provide relief for severe cases of sciatica, surgical intervention may be recommended. Surgery aims to remove the source of the pain, such as a bone spur or herniated disc pressing on the nerve. While not the first line of treatment, surgery can be highly effective in improving the quality of life for individuals suffering from severe sciatica.

How Does Surgery Help?

During surgery for sciatica, the surgeon will access the area where the nerve is being compressed, typically in the lower back or buttock. This can be done through different approaches, including open surgery or minimally invasive techniques.

Once the surgeon has visualized the site of compression, they will carefully remove the bone spur or herniated disc causing the nerve impingement. By eliminating the pressure on the nerve, surgery aims to provide relief from pain and other symptoms associated with sciatica.

Who Is a Candidate for Surgery?

Surgery for sciatica is typically recommended in cases where conservative treatments have not been effective in relieving symptoms. This decision is made by a healthcare professional, considering factors such as the severity and duration of symptoms, the presence of neurological deficits, and the overall health of the individual.

It’s important to note that surgery is not the first approach in treating sciatica. Most individuals will benefit from conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and epidural steroid injections. Surgery is reserved for those with persistent and debilitating symptoms that significantly impact their quality of life.

Types of Surgery for Sciatica

Surgical treatment for severe cases of sciatica involves removing the bone spur or herniated disc that is compressing the nerve. Surgery is typically recommended when conservative treatments have not been effective in relieving symptoms. Different surgical procedures, such as laminectomy, microdiscectomy, spinal fusion, and artificial disc replacement, may be used depending on the underlying cause. After surgery, a rehabilitation plan is essential for recovery. Surgery can provide relief and improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from severe sciatica.

There are several surgical procedures that may be used to treat sciatica. The specific approach will depend on the underlying cause of the nerve compression and the individual’s unique circumstances. Some common surgical treatments for sciatica include:

Laminectomy: This procedure involves removing a portion of the vertebral bone (lamina) to relieve pressure on the affected nerve.
Microdiscectomy: This minimally invasive surgery aims to remove the herniated disc material that is pressing on the nerve.
Spinal fusion: In cases where spinal instability is contributing to nerve compression, spinal fusion may be performed to join two or more vertebrae together.
Artificial disc replacement: This procedure involves removing a damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial disc to maintain spinal motion.

Recovering from Surgery

After undergoing surgery for sciatica, individuals will need to follow a rehabilitation plan to aid in their recovery. This may include physical therapy exercises, pain management techniques, and gradually increasing activity levels under the guidance of healthcare professionals.
The recovery time can vary depending on the type of surgery performed and the individual’s overall health. It’s important to closely follow post-operative instructions and attend any necessary follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and maximize the chances of a successful outcome.

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