Sciatica means leg pain. Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve often as it passes through the joints of the back. This can be caused by injury to the discs between the bones of the back or by stiffness or aging of the joints. In the vast majority of cases of acute sciatica, the pain will resolve in time; however it is often possible to speed up recovery with treatment.

The most important thing is to establish what is causing the pain and to exclude any rare conditions (see below for symptoms). Once the cause is established it can be treated with the appropriate strategy, which may include;

  • Joint mobilisation/ manipulation
  • Taping of the spine
  • TENS for pain relief
  • Education regarding pain free positions and good posture
  • Re-education of movement to promote recovery
  • Soft tissue treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Electrotherapy
  • Pilates exercises


Sciatic type symptoms can sometimes be produced in Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis Syndrome is a condition in which the Piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve, causing pain in the buttocks and referring pain along the course of the sciatic nerve. Piriformis Syndrome is diagnosed primarily on the basis of symptoms and on physiotherapy assessment: a Physiotherapist can differentiate between Sciatica being caused through spinal problems or through a tight Piriformis muscle.

Physiotherapy Treatment for a tight Piriformis might include;

  • Stretching exercises
  • Soft tissue/ trigger point releasing
  • Exercises to address muscle imbalance at the hip
  • Pilates exercises
  • Acupuncture