Sciatica (also known as sciatic neuralgia, sciatic neuritis, or lumbar radiculopathy) is a common form of back pain which occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated.  As the sciatic nerve controls sensation, movement, and balance, it affects movements that involve the lumbar region such as walking, sitting, bending and even standing. Sciatica is common and varies in severity and duration, however Sciatica mostly occurs as a symptom to another medical condition. Sciatica is most often cured either by taking medication or through physiotherapy as only the more severe cases require surgery.

  • Did you know...

  • The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve of the body system as it runs along the lower back and through the buttocks, hips, legs and feet.

Types of Sciatica

There are two main types of sciatica which can be classified into several forms depending on the location and severity of radicular pain.

Neurogenic Sciatica

In this type of sciatica, radicular pain occurs due to the compression of the sciatic nerve or other nerves at the root of the lumbar spine. This compression may be caused by bulging discs or tight muscles. The amount of pressure on the nerves determines the accompanying symptoms. Radicular pains in the leg are, most times, more severe than back pains.

Referred Sciatica

Referred sciatic pain is mostly caused by a muscle and joint problem in the pelvis and spine. Unlike neurologic sciatica, referred sciatica does not cause muscle weakness and numbness. The pain in some cases is worse in the back than in the leg. Before treatment or physiotherapy, it is important to determine the source of the pain first.

Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica can be caused by various medial conditions which may include:

  • spinal disc herniation A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, occurs when a fragment of the discs that cushion the spinal vertebrae is pushed into the spinal canal. This causes a considerable amount of back pain as these ruptured discs are most likely in an early stage of degeneration.
  • spinal stenosis
  •  piriformis syndrome
  • spondylolisthesis
  • degenerative joint disease
  • osteoarthritis
  • cancer

Sciatica can be caused and/or worsened by factors such as pregnancy, abnormal spine movement and muscle strains.


Mild cases of sciatica may not require treatment if the pain subsides in a few days, however if the pain persists treatment may be necessary. The treatment for Sciatica depends on the cause as well as the severity of the condition. Severe cases require physiotherapy and surgery as a last resort.

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation is a form of chiropractic treatment employed to provide relief for sciatic pain. The spine is freed from restrictions and the misaligned lumbar vertebrae are returned to their rightful position. This treatment can be used in conjunction with other forms of physiotherapy to provide more holistic care.


Over-the-counter medication for sciatica is required to provide relief from the radicular pain. Analgesics such as paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed. For best result, these medications should be taken in addition to chiropractic care or physiotherapy.


This form of treatment is rarely necessary as most people respond well to medications and physiotherapy. However, surgery is considered when the symptoms do not improve with chiropractic care and physiotherapy. For example, surgery may be considered if a patient has bladder dysfunction due to spinal cord compression or spinal stenosis. It’s important to note that the exact surgical procedure should be determined by your physician.

Better Help with the Brighton Physiotherapy clinic

Altogether Chiropractic treatment and physiotherapy have been proven to resolve sciatic pain by developing strength and flexibility in the back muscles.

At the Brighton Physiotherapy clinic, we offer a variety of services to help with that and so much more!

So contact us today to book a consultation and begin your journey to healthy, pain-free living.

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