Sciatica is a very common term that is used to describe symptoms affecting the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve starts in the lumbar spine and extends down the back of both legs, but usually sciatic pain will tend to affect only one leg at a time. Many people when they seek treatment may be aware they are experiencing sciatica, but not know what exactly is causing the problem. This is because sciatica is not a condition in its own right, it’s caused as a result of compression onto the nerve, usually caused by a disc bulge or herniation.

Symptoms with sciatica can vary depending on how it’s affecting you. You may experience pain, a burning sensation, weakness or numbing anywhere from the lower back, down the buttocks, legs or feet – even into the toes. Despite the pain appearing down the legs at times, this is actually what is called ‘referred pain’. Although this may be strange at first, as we traditionally always associate pain with the area we’ve injured, but it’s relatively common to experience this with spinal conditions. This is because usually the spine carries signals from every part of the body to your brain, so if for example you experience an injury to your spine where signals are controlled for your hands, it can usually cause referred symptoms to occur in that area of the body. In the case of sciatica, this is common to experience because a lot of cases of spinal compression occur either in the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine).

Unless you’ve experienced a trauma that has caused a direct injury to your spine, disc compression in your spine generally accumulates over weeks, months and years. The most common culprit is poor posture over time, but it could also be down to lifting something (including weight-lifting) repeatedly with poor form, a very active or sedentary occupation.

Our spines are designed to be aligned in a specific way that helps us to absorb pressure and gravity in the most effective way. In the case of a desk job, most people are sedentary for most of the day but not necessarily in the best posture for sitting. It can be quite common to lean forward over your desk, or slouch back in the chair – this can also be very common sitting postures to accommodate outside of work when at home. Adopting these positions can cause more pressure to be placed on the cervical and lumbar spine as they stray from our optimal spine positioning.

The easiest way to explain this is to use the example of ‘tech neck’. We have seen an increase in cases of forward head carriage, something which can be directly attributed to spending more time with your head down looking at a phone. The weight of the head when it’s carried forward places considerable stress on the cervical spine, which can cause compression on the discs. The same can happen with poor posture to the lumbar spine, but in the case of sciatica the compression and accelerated degeneration in the spine that will occur as a result of the compression, can eventually cause discs to bulge or herniate, and cause sciatica. 

It’s important to pay attention to disc problems to see what activities in particular are causing the symptoms to become worse. Generally activities such as bending forwards, lifting anything, or something as simple as putting your socks on in the morning, these can all compress the spine which can cause a flare-up of symptoms.

Most of these basic activities can be altered slightly to be performed in a better way for your spine, but if the problem is beginning to affect you to that extent, or if it’s affecting you at all, it’s best to start to look for a form of treatment to combat the problem. Visiting your local osteopath or chiropractor will be able to shed some light on the underlying cause of the sciatica, as well as recommend a treatment plan.

At The Mayfair Clinic we offer three different types of treatment that can be used in some capacity to help alleviate the pain, and treat the problem in the long-term. We complete an examination with you initially in order to have a clear understanding of the problem you’re facing, if necessary this may include x-ray imaging in order to measure the curves in your spine, the disc space, and the overall condition of your spine. Once that has given us a clear view of your spinal health, we can then use our innovative combination of therapies to treat the problem.

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As part of The Mayfair Method, we use our Spinal Impulse Adjusting therapy to help free any stiff joints that can occur when your spine is out of alignment. This treatment is an effective alternative to manual manipulation done by traditional chiropractors or osteopaths, which can often be uncomfortable and carry their own risks. The treatment can easily be controlled and is suitable for patients who might otherwise have been put off from visiting a professional because of manual therapy. 

We also have a specific treatment that can target disc compression, called Spinal Decompression. This treatment uses a very small percentage of your body weight, to gently provide a stretch on the spine – this can alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve to help with pain relief, but it can also help to create a healthier healing environment for the discs. It does this by repeatedly, but gradually over a period of time, performing the gentle stretch which can simulate a slow, pumping action. This can help nutrients enter the disc space to rehydrate the disc and help the body continue healing after the treatment.

Our Class 4 Laser therapy completes this powerful trio of therapies by applying light therapy to an injured part of the body. Light therapy stimulates the area it’s applied to by increasing the blood circulation, and aiding the development of new blood vessels. The warming sensation provides a soothing relief to an area in pain, and allows the body to heal more completely following an injury. This makes it an important part of our treatment plans as it assist the body’s natural healing processes, and speed them up. 

If you’re suffering with sciatic pain and you’re based in the London area, finding a practitioner who can effectively deal with your problem is very important. Based near Oxford Circus station on Cavendish Square, we have the technology and expertise to deal with back or neck pain, along with complaints that can affect other areas of the body – such as numbness, weakness, tingling or burning in the hands or feet.