What Should I Avoid If I Have Sciatica?

If you’ve ever suffered with sciatica before, you’ll know all too clearly, just how painful and debilitating the condition can be. The good news is that when it comes to sciatica treatment, you have plenty of options. One of which is of course to contact a chiropractic clinic to discuss your options. As far as sciatica is concerned, though, prevention is the best cure, which is why, rather than looking at sciatica treatment options today, we’re instead looking at things to avoid exacerbating the condition.

First off, what is sciatica?

Before we look at what you should avoid if you are plagued with sciatica, we’re first going to ensure that you’re clear with what sciatica actually is. Sciatica is not actually one individual ailment at all. Instead, it is a term which is used to describe a selection of different symptoms of pain, which include feelings of numbness, tingly, and weakness, which tends to radiate from the buttocks, hips, and lower back, down one leg via the sciatic nerve. Sciatica may be caused from several things ranging from wear and tear, to childbirth.

Things to avoid if you have sciatica

Whereas there are plenty of sciatica treatment options available, one of the best ways of preventing/managing your pain and the condition in general, is knowing what to avoid. Here are a few examples of things to avoid if you’re plagued with the condition:

Hamstring stretches – Before exercising, it is essential that you stretch and warm up your muscles. Fail to do so, and you run the risk of injury. One very common stretch before exercising is the hamstring stretch. For sciatica sufferers, this is one of the worst movements to perform. Whether leaning forwards, or stood upright, this particular stretch has been known to put pressure onto the entire sciatic nerve, resulting in a great deal of pain and discomfort.

Bent over rows – If you lift weights, one of the best exercises for the back is the bent over row. If you suffer with sciatica, though, this is an exercise you must avoid. Bent over rows can put a lot of pressure onto your sciatic nerve and lower back. Plus, there’s also the temptation to cheat to row the weight. Poor form and posture, along with heavy weights can be disastrous for sciatica sufferers.

Twisting movements – Any sport or exercise that requires you to bend and twist your torso could put you at a much greater risk of exacerbating your sciatica and making it worse. Try to avoid playing sports or doing exercises and activities which require you to twist your body. Again, this is because it could put pressure on the nerve, which would result in elevated levels of pain and discomfort.

Sitting – Okay, just to be clear, we aren’t telling you to never sit down again if you suffer with sciatica. What we are saying is that, as far as effective sciatica treatment options go, prolonged sitting is not beneficial. When you suffer with back/leg pain, the temptation is always to sit down as resting an injury is generally the done thing. However, here, one of the most effective sciatica treatment options is to avoid sitting and to try and get some gentle walking in. Sitting, and exercises and sports that require you to sit for long periods of time, are generally not beneficial when it comes to sciatica.

At Neuroworks Chiropractic help you with treatment for sciatica. We will start with a thorough case history and then a full orthopedic and neurological examination. After this we will give talk through the precise cause of your sciatica and your treatment options to the fastest resolution of your symptoms.

Should you have any signs of compressional nerve damage we will recommend an MRI which can be done at very competitive prices within a few days. In 20% of cases we find a neuro-surgical opinion is warranted and a direct referral can be made to trusted surgeons that we work with regularly.

At Neuroworks we see many cases of sciatica, please call us on 020 8566 3757.

Ways to Treat Sciatica Pain


Sciatica is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve – it often starts in the lower back and shoots down through the hips and buttock and down one leg. The pain sometimes goes past the knees and into your feet. Typically, the pain only affects one side of the body.

Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. It commonly occurs when a bone spur on the spine, herniated disk or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within your spine) compresses part of the nerve.

Below are conditions that cause sciatica:

• Herniated or slipped disc – this is the most common cause of sciatica. It occurs when the gel-like centre of a disc ruptures near the spinal nerve, causing pressure on the nerve or irritation.

• Piriformis syndrome – sciatica can develop when the piriformis muscle becomes tight or spasms, which can exert pressure and irritate the sciatic nerve.

• Spondylolisthesis – this is a condition in which one vertebra slips at the base of the spine. The slippage can result in pressure on the sciatic nerve. The pain can develop due to the effects of aging such as when the nerves are being compressed by osteoarthritis and fractures due to osteoporosis.

Sciatica can also be caused by irritation of the nerve from adjacent bone infections in or around the lumbar spine, internal bleeding, tumours, traumatic accidents or injuries, and osteophyte among others. Sometimes sciatica can develop due to irritation of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The main symptom of sciatica is pain. You may experience a deep, shooting pain that starts from the lower back, through the buttock, down the thigh and the back of either leg.

Other symptoms of sciatica include:
• Numbness in the affected leg
• Tingling or burning sensation in the buttocks or legs
• Loss of bowel or bladder function

Sciatica Treatment

1. Hot and cold compression packs – these are effective in reducing pain. Apply each on the painful area for several minutes, a few times a day. Be sure to alternate between the two.

2. Medication – over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce pain and stiffness. If the pain persists after using over-the-counter options, consult your doctor.

3. Chiropractic care – spinal manipulation, typically performed by a chiropractor, is used to treat restrictions in spinal mobility. The aim is to improve the alignment of the spine, as a result, reduce pain and improve function. Spinal adjustment is as effective as standard treatments for sciatica as it addresses the underlying cause of the nerve pain such as spinal stenosis or herniated discs. Speak to the team at Neuroworks Chiropractic to discuss your treatment options.

4. Surgery – surgery may be considered when the symptoms are severe, chronic or progressive even after conservative treatment options have been tried.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help People with Sciatica

SciaticaSciatica is a condition that is characterised by pain going down your leg from your lower back. The pain may go down your back, outside, or even the front of your leg. Onset is usually sudden following activities such as heavy lifting, although gradual onset may occur as well.

Symptoms of Sciatica

• A shooting pain that often makes standing up difficult
• A constant pain in one side of your rear
• Numbness, weakness, or difficulty moving your leg or foot
• Tingling or burning running down your leg
• Pain in your rear or leg or that worsens when sitting

Usually, sciatica affects just one side of your lower body. Most of the time, the pain travels from your lower back through the back of your thigh and then down through your leg. Also, the pain may reach your toes or foot. For some people, the pain might be irritating and infrequent, but it can worsen.

What Triggers Sciatica?

About 90 percent of the time the condition is as a result of a spinal disc herniation that presses on one of your sacral or lumbar nerve roots. Other common causes include the following:

• Compression by the head of a baby during pregnancy, which can add severe strain on your spine
• Spondylolisthesis – The displacement or slipping of one vertebra when compared to another
• Degenerative disc disease (DDD) affecting the discs cushioning the vertebrae.
• Spinal stenosis – An abnormal narrowing of your neural foramen or spinal canal that leads to pressure on your nerve roots or spinal cord

Additional irritants: sleeping on a mattress that’s too soft, high heels, not exercising regularly or excess weight. Sciatic nerve compression may lead to insomnia, paralysis of a group of muscles or a single limb.

Diagnosis of Sciatica Is Important

A chiropractor examines you and reviews your medical history to determine the cause of your sciatica pain. Chiropractic care is typically based on the theory that restricted spinal movement results in reduced function and increased pain. Chiropractic care can aid your body to heal itself with non-surgical (non-invasive), drug-free treatment.

What Are the Sciatica Treatments That Chiropractors Use?

Interferential and Laser – These therapies help reduce pain, stiffness, swelling, cramping as well as muscle spasm and increase circulation.

Ice/Cold Therapy – It reduces inflammation plus helps control sciatic pain.

Spinal Manipulations (Spinal Adjustments) – Spinal adjustments and manipulation frees your spine’s restricted movement and helps in restoring misaligned vertebral bodies back to their proper place in your spine. The techniques of adjustments vary from a quick high-velocity thrust to the ones that combine gentle pressure and minimal force. Mastery of each of these techniques is an art that needs precision and great skill. Spinal manipulation is basically the treatment that separates chiropractic care from the other medical disciplines.

If you are looking for an Ealing chiropractor, you can visit Neuroworks Chiropractic Clinic; where all our chiropractors have expert training and a keen interest in neurology.

At Neuroworks the chiropractors have a special interest in neurology and nerve compressions and can refer for MRI scanning within days if required. We work with spinal orthopaedic and neurosurgeons and should the portion of the sciatic nerve be overly compressed and risk long term weakness in the leg a timely referral will be recommended.