Health advice from our experts - SCIATICA

My sciatica isn’t getting better!

After weeks or months with painkillers and anti-inflammatory treatment the pain is still there.

It’s important to have a correct diagnosis to be able to assess the problem correctly. That is where most treatments fail before even starting.

If you are suffering from pain that doesn’t go past the back of your knee (gluteus and hamstring pain) or pain on the front of the thigh, it’s more than likely that you haven’t got  sciatica symptoms but are suffering from some other disorders that are mentioned further down. In most cases these symptoms have a very simple solution with osteopathic treatment and patients recover very well.

Sciatica is a series of symptoms (lower back, gluteus and leg pain, numbness or tingling, weakness…) and not an actual diagnosis, that can be caused by a series of different things. What most people understand is that there is a compression of the sciatic nerve caused by the inflammation generated by a prolapsed or herniated intervertebral disc that irritates the nerve and therefore causes pain.  In this case medication is necessary to help reduce the inflammation and a correct osteopathic treatment is needed to improve the situation and prevent it from returning.


But there are many other things that can cause sciatica-type pain:

  • There are muscles that can compress the sciatic nerve.
  • Many muscles themselves can give pain around the lower back all the way down to the ankle or even on the front of the thigh and knee.
  • Certain ligaments and joints can also refer pain around the lower back and down the back of the leg.
  • Osteoarthritis of the lower back can also have an effect that is similar to that of a herniated intervertebral disc.

In cases like these anti-inflammatory treatment and painkillers aren’t a solution because they don’t treat the problem, they cover up the symptoms which can then return later on. That’s why treating the source of the pain helps you recover from the disorder.


There are various treatments that can help improve or cure these problems such as:

  • Osteopathic manipulations to unblock certain vertebrae that may be rotated or lacking movement
  • Osteopathic manipulations to unblock and improve the mobility of the sacroiliac joints or the sacrum which have a big influence on the sciatic nerve
  • Treatment of muscle trigger points using manual treatment such as pressure, stretching , massage.
  • Treatment of muscle trigger points applying dry needling with acupuncture needles or electro-acupuncture.
  • Neuromeningeal manipulation to restore mobility to the nerve therefore improving its functionality .
  • Cranial-sacral therapy to help restore the meninges (layers of membranes that envelope the central nervous system).

All these treatments are very effective but only work if there is a correct diagnosis of the disorder. It is important to visit your doctor and your osteopath to evaluate and make a correct diagnosis.

This article was provided by Simon Ratcliffe, Osteopath, Family Medical Centre

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