Sciatica can be an agonising condition, worse than back pain! It can ruin people’s lives, preventing them doing things with their love ones, ruining sleep and making life miserable.

Fortunately there are things we can do about it, without resorting to surgery. 

…So what is sciatica?

Sciatica is nerve pain that travels down the back of the leg. This happens when the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed. Lower back pain and/or buttocks pain can be present as well.

The main symptoms usually are tingling, numbness and/or weakness down one leg with sharp pain.


The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in our body. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back as the nerve roots leave the spinal cord through the gaps in between the bones in the lower (lumbar) spine.

The nerve then extends the entire length of the leg and into the foot. The sciatic nerve travels down the back of the leg and then it branches out to different parts of the leg providing sensory and motor functions along the way all the way down to the foot.

Common Causes of Sciatica 

  • Bulged disc- a “slipped disc” is one of the most common causes of sciatica. The centre of the disc pushes out through the disc wall, and it can touch and irritate the sciatic nerve, causing pain, which can be severe shooting pain or continuous dull ache.

  • Spondylolisthesis- this happens when a vertebrae slips forward compare to the one below pinching the sciatic nerve or narrowing the spinal canal.

  • Piriformis syndrome- the sciatic nerve can be trapped or irritated by the piriformis muscle in our buttock when this is hypertonic ( too tight).

  • Space occupying lesion- anything that can occupy a space around the nerve could cause sciatica, usually a tumour or cyst ( this cause is less common than the previous three).

How to treat Sciatica

There are different treatment options that can help reduce sciatica pain. In the short term anti-inflammatories may be needed, as well as the use of ice. Rest, and avoid heavy lifting or bending/twisting the back.

Physical therapy, like osteopathy, is highly recommended as this can help to reduce sciatica symptoms through mobilisation and soft tissue techniques. Some gentle exercises might be prescribed once symptoms have reduced, in order to maintain mobility in the spine and strengthen the muscles that support the lower back.

If Osteopathy ( or other physical therapies) fails to improve sciatica, an alternative non-invasive treatment that can be taken into consideration before thinking about injections or surgery is the IDD Therapy spine decompression.

IDD Therapy Spinal Decompression

The IDD Therapy ( Intervertebral Differential Dynamics) Spinal Decompression is a treatment for unresolved low back pain (and neck pain), particularly for disc related problems and sciatica.

It uses computer-controlled pulling forces to take the pressure off discs and any trapped nerves. At the same time, gentle mobilisation helps the body by freeing the joint and allowing fluid and nutrients into the disc space. This is important for healing. 

When dealing with long term pain, patients require a series of treatments spread over a six to eight weeks period to achieve the best results.

There is no set recovery period after each session, so you can continue with your usual activities although strenuous or physical labour is best avoided to allow tissues to adapt to treatment.

You will be given guidance on gentle exercises to follow and the closer you stick with the guidance you are given, the better your chance of long term pain relief. 

However there are times when IDD Therapy isn’t appropriate, like sever canal stenosis, vertebral fusions ( less than 6 months old), Spondylolysthesis ( grade II or higher) and others. In some severe circumstances, surgery is the appropriate treatment option to reduce symptoms.

If you are struggling with sciatica and want to find a solution to your pain, we are here to help. We offer a free advice phone call or you can book a 45 minute consultation. You can book online or just give us a call at 020 7100 4598. We will be happy to help you!