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Back Pain: Sciatica What’s It All About And What To Do About It

So in the last few weeks my clinic has been flooded with people suffering from back pain.

But not just a bit stiff or achy type back pain but the most severe of all in my opinion, “sciatica”.

There’s only one word to describe the pain that people suffer at the hands of sciatica and that’s “horrendous”! I know as I have been a fellow sufferer of this and it is just awful! Ruins your life, makes you feel down and feel like life will never be pain free and happy again.

In case you’re not familiar with what it is – you’d recognise it by having a severe pain running right down the back of your leg and into your toes.

And it’s often made much worse when you sit. bend or sneeze/cough.

And here’s the real, true, underlying cause of most peoples trouble: our friend, sitting!

How much of it have you been doing lately?

The problem is the more sitting you do, will add pressure to your back and so onto your sciatic nerve, eventually, a disc at the bottom of your back will give up the ghost and the fluid inside will come out and touch the big Sciatic nerve which runs down your leg – also know as “Sciatica”.

Sciatica can cause pins and needles in your leg and or foot, numbness, and a cold sensation as well as the pain – and unfortunately, it’s often so painful that nothing in the way of medication – Morphene included, can ease it.

And despite what a few GP’s seem to think these days, there are things that can be done other than rest and painkillers, or just hoping for it to go away with time. Long gone are the days of lay on a board or in your bed for 6 weeks.

In fact not moving is the worst thing you can do – trust me I know having been in a bad place with a ruptured disc giving me sciatica 4 years ago.

But there is hope! Thank goodness I here you shout.

Physio can help. It can make it worse before it gets better – but it does get better, I promise :-). Specific exercises are needed too. Again, they are painful at first, but if you persist, the pain begins to drop.

I remember not living one second without agonising pain. I couldn’t sit, walk, get in or out of a car and I could not find one position to rest in to get even an hours sleep. I was getting to the end of my tether and was thinking “if this carries on much longer I will just ask to have back surgery”.

Glad I didn’t!!!!

Anyway what I did was have physio treatment with one of my team every day for 10 days and by the end of this period 75% of my pain had gone! It was like heaven! I continue treatment weekly for a while and got to the stage where I was completely pain free and moving well.

Going back to the sitting story below are a few tips:

Limiting the amount of time you spend sitting can help too. And there’s something to note – I see a lot of people sitting on my chairs in my clinic with back pain and they tell me that “sitting doesn’t make it worse” – but what they’re doing is sitting in a modified or slouched way that means they’re just avoiding the pain – making the whole thing last longer and often leaving the person with an awkward looking posture long after the back trouble has gone.

Every 30 minutes get up and move about even if it is just for 5 minutes. Have a walk around and change that pressure on your poor back. It will thank you for it.

So, to sum up todays “health lesson”…

Sciatica is a painful and life limiting condition. But, unless you’re in the small 5% of people who nothing can be done other than surgery, there ARE things you can do. And I think what is best understand about sciatica – and something that should be communicated a lot more by health professionals trying to help people suffering – is that often when you’re trying to make sciatica better in the long run, an increase in pain in the short run is normal. Not nice. But par for the course!

And in the end, will mean for a much more speedy return to better health than sitting and praying for time, popping more and more painkillers that just give you other health problems!

Trust me when I say Sciatica will not go away by itself with time or pills, act now and get your life back on track like I did. You will live a much happier and healthier life 🙂

For more back pain tips, visit here: http://www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/essexphysio/physiotherapy/back-pain/


Article written by Wendy McCloud (May 2017)



Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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