There are lots of treatment options for sciatica. Different combinations will work for different people but any treatment needs to be informed by an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment basically involves reducing pain and improving your strength and flexibility.
I use lumbar spine mobilisations to improve flexibility, reduce muscle guarding, improve circulation and reduce local inflammation. Some people believe these techniques help reduce the size of a disc bulge.
I use different variations of these techniques, usually starting with gentler versions and moving up to more forceful techniques as the pain reduces.
I also work on local muscles in the low back, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. This aims encourages flexibility, reduce pain arising from muscle guarding, retrains your nervous system to activate muscles and reduces sensitivity. Usually these are massage style techniques but I also use stretches and modified stretches such as Muscle Energy Techniques (METs).
With most sciatica sufferers I will also work on their mid back and shoulders as I find this is useful for short term relief.
Most important of all is exercise! I give all of my patients simple stretches to do each day. I also give simple exercises to strengthen and reactivate the core muscles.
It’s important to stay active with gentle walking and as many normal daily activities as you can tolerate. It is not a good idea to rest for long periods as this allows your muscles to stiffen. It’s also quite boring and isolating and leads you to dwell on pain.
Many of my sciatica patients use painkillers to help manage their symptoms. I can’t give specific advice on painkillers but they are usually fine to use alongside osteopathy and exercise. It is best to speak to your chemist for advice on over the counter medication or your GP for prescription medication. Many of my sciatica patients use ice packs to help manage pain.
If conservative treatment doesn’t help you may wish to consider other treatment options. Injections into the facet joints are commonly offered and can give some pain relief. If your sciatica symptoms are caused by a disc herniation you may be offered an operation to reduce the size of the disc bulge.
Most cases of sciatica resolve with time and non-invasive treatment such as those described above.
If you think you have sciatica please give me a call on 020 8520 5268 to find out how I can help.