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Sciatica is a pain that goes into and down the leg or both legs and is related to the sciatic nerve. In this article we look at symptoms, causes and treatment options. 

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica refers to nerve pain going down the leg or in some cases both legs. Sciatica is a term that is commonly passed around as a diagnosis, but it is in fact a symptom of something that is then causing pain to go down the leg. 

The name sciatica comes from the name of the biggest nerve that goes down into your legs called the sciatic nerve. It is the main nerve going into the leg which then branches off into smaller nerves throughout the leg and into the foot.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Sciatica itself is a symptom and not a diagnosis. If you are experiencing sciatica, you can have pain ranging from around your pelvis, into your upper leg (usually hamstrings) into your calf, ankle and foot. 

The pain can be sharp, burning, stabbing or a constant dull ache. You can also experience pins and needles, muscle weakness and/or numbness in the leg. These are classic presentations of nerve problems. 

What causes sciatica?

Like a lot of problems with the body, there are multiple factors that might be causing your sciatica symptoms. The most common cause of sciatica is where a local soft tissue comes into contact with the nerve causing irritation and pain in the pelvis, leg and or foot.

When most patients come into our clinic with sciatica, their main concern is if the sciatic pain is coming from a herniated disc or can be commonly referred to as a “slipped disc” in the low back. Another common cause or contributing factor of sciatica can be a tight muscle, (the piriformis muscle for example) that compresses the sciatic nerve. In some cases, it can be a referral pain from a joint in the lumbar spine. These joints are called facet joints and are richly supplied by nerve endings. If there is an issue with one of these joints, it can give you very similar symptoms to sciatica.

What can I do to treat sciatica?

First of all, you need to understand the cause of your sciatica. If you are struggling with sciatica, then it is worth seeing one of our chiropractors or our sports therapist for help. They will be able to help assess and diagnose the most likely cause of your pain. Once this has been worked out, they will provide you with a treatment plan to assist your recovery. They will provide treatment and home exercises to help you along the way. If the cause of the sciatica is not clear or needs further investigation, our practitioners can refer you for a diagnostic scan (X-ray or MRI). If we are unable to help, then we may refer you to an appropriate health professional.

At Skelian we offer a variety of excellent services performed by our highly trained healthcare professionals that can help you with your sciatica.

Services at Skelian that treat acute back pain 

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Alex Broomsgrove, Chiropractor Cheltenham Skelian

Alex Broomsgrove



“I always strive to get to the root of the issue and then work with my patients to find a solution to the problem”

Victoria West



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Dani Cowley

Sports Therapist

“My goal is to help all  my patients return to their preferred activity whilst maintaining a pain-free and healthy lifestyle. I always aim to go one step further by minimising the risk of future injury through rehabilitation plans and hands-on therapy.”

Cheltenham Chiropractor, Stuart Smellie, Skelian Chiropractic Clinic

Stuart Smellie



“Chiropractic care can make a real difference in reducing the suffering of people with back pain and other problems”


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