Sciatica Made Simple

by | Apr 8, 2018 | Osteopathy, Pain Relief

Sciatica Made Simple

Sciatic pain is commonly felt alongside lower back pain, it is described as pain in the leg (lower extremity). It occurs when there is irritation of the sciatic nerve, this is typically felt from the lower back down to the back of the thigh to the knee and sometimes further down into the ankle or foot.

Largest Nerve In The Body

The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest spinal nerve in the body, it extends from the lower back, running downward into the buttock or gluteal region, and into the back of the thigh and lower the leg (calf). Smaller individual nerves branch off from the sciatic nerve to reach muscles and skin and so can cause a variety of symptoms.

Commonly pain is only one side of the buttock or leg rarely felt in both sides, this is due to branching off into two sciatic nerves supplying each leg. If both legs have symptoms this may suggest either spinal nerve roots or cord is being compressed. The pain can vary from infrequent and irritation to constant and incapacitating.

Areas Of Discomfort

  • Low back (lumbar spine)
  • Hip and buttock (gluteal area)
  • back of the leg
  • Feet and toes


  • Pain: Stabling, Shooting, Burning or Dull Ache
  • Pins and needles (Tingling feeling)
  • Loss of sensation (Numb)
  • Muscles Weakness

Causes of Sciatica

Commonly the sciatic nerve is irritated in a result of a disc herniation that directly puts pressure on the nerve. Other causes such as local inflammation, trauma, and degeneration to the low back (lumbar spine) or disc. Pressure on the sciatic nerve from a muscle called piriformis (because of its pyramidal shape) can occur causing “Piriformis Syndrome”, producing symptoms similar to true sciatica.

Trapped nerves (radiculopathy) in the low back can produce diverse symptoms depending on which nerve is being trapped. The common ones are:

L4 Nerve Root (L3-L4): symptoms stemming from this level in the lower spine may include pain and/or numbness to the inside lower leg and foot; weakness to the foot

L5 Nerve Root (L4-L5): stemming from this level you may experience pain and/or numbness at the top of the foot, around big and second toe. Weakness may also be experienced potentially in the ankle.

S1 Nerve Root (L5-S1): pain and/or numbness to the outside the foot; weakness results in difficulty raising the heel off the ground or an inability to walk on tip-toes.

How to relief the pain?

  • A range of exercises/stretches can be used to relief the sciatic pain along with relief of lower back pain. Please watch our video on exercises to help relieve your lower back pain!
  • Pain may increase by prolonged sitting, standing up, twisting, lifting or straining; therefore reduce these movements to help relieve the pressure or irritation on the sciatic nerve.
  • Lying flat with a pillow to support your head and under your knees will help relieve the pressure on your back, using a cold compress on the affected side will help with any local inflammation that has occurred.

If your symptoms don't improve it's best to seek the professional advice, as the are also other medical conditions which may need to be looked at.

Jennifer Beck osteopath
Jennifer Beck, M.OST
Member of the General Osteopathic Council
Member of the Institute of Osteopaths

I am available to help you today. Being gentle and working in tune with nature, it will be a relaxing way to heal“.

Call anytime for an appointment of free telephone advice, 0208 9462331

New patients: book your first 60 minute appointment and treatment here.

How to Fix Knee Pain Fast

Fix your knee pain fast. The commonest cause of most knee pain arises from the kneecap rubbing on the leg bone. It is a form of repetitive injury, like too much walking, running, squatting over a period of time. This blog explains how to fix knee pain fast. Containing two free PDFs for you to download and keep. No email needed. Written by Wimbledon Osteopath with over 30 years experience.

Video Consultation vs Treatment

Video Consultation vs Hands on Treatment Research has shown that patient satisfaction with video consultation is as good as face to face...

Osteopathy for the internal organs – part 1

Visceral Osteopathy This is part 1 of 2. Click here for part 2 London is a wonderful and exciting city! Every day is a new day, full of...

Discover more about our effective treatments for pain

Osteopathy treatment for back pain in Wimbledon


Assessment & treatment

Osteopathy treatment for head and neck pain in Wimbledon

Head, Neck, Arm

Assessment & treatment

Jaw, Ear, Sinus

Assessment & treatment

Effective treatment of shoulder pain in Wimbledon and Raynes Park


Assessment & treatment

Relief from hip pain in Wimbledon


Assessment & treatment

Treat knee pain effectively with Osteopathy techniques, in Raynes Park


Assessment & treatment

Relief from Arm and Elbow pain from a trusted Osteopath in Wimbledon

Elbow & Hand

Assessment & treatment

Treat foot and ankle pain effectively in Wimbledon

Foot & Ankle

Assessment & treatment