(Sciatic Leg Pains)
Sciatica means pain that goes down the leg. One common reason for this is some pressure on the nerves that run down the leg as they pass out of the spine. The pressure can be caused by a damaged disc in the back.
It was once thought that the discs "slipped" but in fact they behave more like a car tyre with a bulge in the wall. The bulge can press on the nerve giving sharp pain in the leg.
There is a myth that osteopaths can correct "slipped discs" using manipulation. Unfortunately this is not true. The management of disc injuries relies greatly on appropriate advice and progressive exercise. Osteopathic treatment may be useful in helping with the associated mechanical (muscle and joint) back problems that accompany the disc injury.
Another cause of sciatic pain is called referred pain. In this case there need not be any pressure on the nerve root. The pain felt in the leg is really coming from somewhere else. If the origin of the pain is found (for example a ligament in the back) and treated then the leg pain will go away.
This is the most common type of sciatica that we see and it responds well to our non surgical osteopathic treatment.
In some cases it my be necessary to see an MRI scan of your back to show whether or not there is a specific disc injury pressing on a nerve. Your osteopath or practitioner will discuss this with you and can refer you for a private MRI or on to your GP who can refer you via the NHS.
X-Rays are no help in this condition because they only show the bones not the softer tissues that cause this sort of trouble.
by John Chaffey last review October 2013