How common is sciatica?

Sciatica affects about around 1 in 4 people at some time in their lives. It’s more common in the over 40s.

Have you been affected?  If you haven’t, you probably know someone who has.

What is sciatica?

“Sciatica” is a description.  And not a diagnosis.  It describes where your symptoms are.  But not what’s causing them.

It’s like going to the doctor and telling them you have a sore head, and them telling you that you have a headache.

Basically, sciatica is pain and/or pins and needles in the distribution of the sciatic nerve.  You may also have weakness in one of the muscles supplied by the nerve.

The sciatic nerve covers from the buttock, through the back and outside of the thigh, and everything below the knee.

man with sciatica

Different types of sciatica

Broadly there are 3 types…

Due to underlying disease

This is very rare.  See the screening questions below to find out whether you should see a doctor or not for sciatica.

Nerve compression sciatica

Where the nerve or one of its tributaries is compressed/irritated.  This is fairly common.  And the most common cause of this is a disc prolapse/herniation.  We specialise in the non-surgical rehabilitation of people with disc prolapses and herniations.

Non-nerve compression sciatica

We often refer to this as “referred pain”.  You can experience pain in the sciatic area if a muscle/ligament/joint in your lower back is hurting.  This is because it has a common spinal nerve.   So, let’s say you’ve strained a muscle in your back.  The nerve supplying that muscle has a tributary from the L5 spinal nerve.  But L5 spinal nerve also supplies a tributary to the sciatic nerve.  So, you feel pain in the sciatic area, but there’s nothing wrong there.

What causes sciatica?

There are a number of risk factors for sciatica.  If you have a history of recurrent low back pain, you’re more at risk.  People who are significantly overweight are more prone to sciatica.

If you’re over 40, guess what?  You have a greater risk of sciatica.  And if you smoke, that increases your risk too – strange one.  We think it’s because you are slower to heal if you smoke.  It affects the “quality of your tissues”.

People who sit for long periods and those who do heavy manual work are both at more risk of sciatica.

Sciatica relief

Stay active

It’s really important to remain as active as the pain permits.  The rules are slightly different, depending on how long you’ve had your pain.

Use painkillers for sciatica relief?

The recommendations on this are changing.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often prescribed.  But there’s recent evidence they may prolong pain.  Codeine is sometimes prescribed.  But opioids can cause dependency.

There are other drugs that your doctor may prescribe for nerve pain.

Sciatica Treatment

There is evidence that osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage are helpful.

Immediate relief for sciatica pain

Our aim at Active X is to provide you with rapid relief.  And to help you reduce the risk of another episode.  Relief is not enough.  More than 90% of our clients opt for prevention as well as relief of their sciatica.


Transcutaneous Electroneural Stimulation might help ease the symptoms. This is a little battery driven pack that is often given to labouring women. If you’re interested in trying this, we sell TENS units in the clinic. They are only £40.

Sciatica Diagnosis Versus Functional Assessment

At Active X we provide a Functional Assessment.  While we help you understand the likely causes, it’s important for you to know what to do to get better.  And what to avoid.  This is where the Functional Assessment comes in. We will provide a FA at your first appointment.

Sciatica treatment near me

If you’ve googled “sciatica treatment near me”, you’re obviously keen to get rapid relief of your pain.  Just click the “Book Now” button, and you’re on your way.  We specialise in sciatica and low back pain.

Video about sciatica

Please excuse the very old video below.  It may be old, but the information is as true now as it was then.

When to see a doctor

If you answer “yes” to any of the below, we recommend you see a clinician specialising in this area:

Compared with during your waking day, is your pain worse when trying to sleep?

Have you lost any great amount of weight without meaning to over the last year?

Have you been diagnosed with Cancer at any time?

Have you had lower back surgery in the last 2 years?

Do you have any numbness (lack of sensation) or pins and needles in your pelvic floor area (up between your upper thighs, the area you would sit on if on a saddle)?

Have you had any recent change in sexual function?  Loss of feeling, erection or ability to orgasm?

Do you have any difficulty urinating or defecating (using the toilet)?

Have you suffered any significant trauma recently, which in any way could impact on your lower back?

Have you been on a prolonged course of oral corticosteroids (steroids by mouth) in the past or now?

Have you had a persistent high temperature or chills recently?

If you do answer yes to one of the above, please contact us, rather than rushing off to your doctor.

AXB has specialised in relief AND prevention since 1993.  Our team, based in the West End of Edinburgh are keen to help you.

Secure your appointment today, by clicking the Book Now button.