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Sciatic pain: the bible 

EVERYTHING you need to know

Let’s start from the basics. What is a nerve?

A nerve is a bundle of specialized cells known as neurons. Neurons are the fundamental building blocks of the nervous system and are designed to carry electrical signals called nerve impulses or action potentials (from the brain to the body and viceversa). The human body contains an extensive network of nerves. While it’s challenging to provide an exact number due to the complexity of the nervous system, there are billions of individual neurons and trillions of connections (synapses) between them.

What is the function of a nerve?

Nerves serve as the communication channels of the nervous system, enabling the transmission of information to and from the brain and various body parts. They have three primary functions:

  • Sensory Function: Sensory nerves, also known as afferent nerves, carry information from sensory organs (such as the skin, eyes, ears, nose, and tongue) to the brain. This allows us to perceive sensations like touch, temperature, pain, taste, and smell. The information travels from “outside” towards the “inside”.

  • Motor Function: Motor nerves, also known as efferent nerves, transmit signals from the brain and spinal cord to muscles and glands. They are responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movements and involuntary actions (such as heart rate and digestion). Here the information travels the other way arounf, from the “inside” towards the “outside”. 

  • Mixed Function: Many nerves have both sensory and motor functions and are referred to as mixed nerves (dual carriageway, so to speak).

Nerves are distributed throughout the entire body, forming an extensive network that helps regulate bodily functions, coordinate movements, and process sensory information.

Sciatic nerve

The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body. It plays a vital role in the lower extremities, providing both sensory and motor functions. Here’s an overview of the sciatic nerve:

The sciatic nerve originates from the lower spinal cord, specifically from the nerve roots of L4, L5, S1, S2, and S3. These nerve roots come together in the pelvis to form the sciatic nerve. It then runs down the back of each leg, extending from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of the thigh. It is formed by the merging of several nerve roots that exit the spinal cord in the lumbar and sacral regions.

On its way down, the sciatic nerve passes through or near several important structures in the body:

    • Piriformis Muscle: In some individuals, the sciatic nerve passes through the piriformis muscle, which is a muscle located deep in the buttock.

    • Greater Sciatic Foramen: After passing the piriformis muscle, the nerve exits the pelvis through a bony opening called the greater sciatic foramen.

    • Thigh and Leg: Once outside the pelvis, the sciatic nerve continues its course along the back of the thigh, behind the knee, and then branches into the tibial nerve and common fibular (peroneal) nerve.

    • Tibial Nerve and Common Fibular (Peroneal) Nerve: These two branches further supply different muscles and areas of the lower leg and foot.


The sciatic nerve is a mixed nerve, meaning it contains both sensory and motor fibers. Its primary functions include:

  • Sensory Function: The sciatic nerve provides sensory innervation to the skin of the buttocks, the back of the thigh, the leg, and the foot. It allows us to feel sensations like touch, temperature, and pain in these regions.

  • Motor Function: The sciatic nerve controls the movement of several important muscles in the leg, including those responsible for extending the hip, flexing the knee, and pointing the foot.

Sciatica or sciatic pain

Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that originates from irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. It can be caused by various factors, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or muscle inflammation. Sciatica can result in lower back pain, sometimes extending down the buttock(s) or leg(s), tingling, or weakness that radiates from the lower back through the buttock and down the back of the leg.

It’s important to note that the sciatic nerve’s pathway and exact function can vary slightly from person to person, as anatomy can differ slightly between individuals. If you experience any persistent or severe pain or neurological symptoms in the lower back or legs, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.


Causes of sciatic pain

Irritation of the sciatic nerve, known as sciatica, can be caused by various factors that lead to compression or inflammation of the nerve. Some common causes of sciatic nerve irritation include:

Herniated Disc (Slipped Disc): A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner core of a spinal disc pushes through the tough outer layer and compresses nearby nerves, including the sciatic nerve. The pressure on the nerve can cause pain and other symptoms to radiate along the nerve’s pathway.

Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal or the spaces where nerves exit the spine. This narrowing can put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord, leading to sciatica.

Piriformis Syndrome: The sciatic nerve runs beneath or, in some individuals, through the piriformis muscle in the buttock. Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis muscle becomes tight or spasms, irritating the sciatic nerve. The piriformis is a short and thick muscle that is prone to develop tightness (especially in runners, for example). Excessive tension of this muscle will lead to irritation of the sciatic nerve – to verious degrees. 

Degenerative Disc Disease: Degenerative disc disease involves the gradual wear and tear of the spinal discs over time. As the discs lose their cushioning and height, it can lead to instability and compression of nearby nerves, including the sciatic nerve.

Spondylolisthesis: Spondylolisthesis is a condition where one vertebra slips forward over an adjacent vertebra. This misalignment can cause nerve compression, including the sciatic nerve.

Spinal Tumors: Tumors that develop within or near the spinal column can compress the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica. These tumors may be benign or malignant.

Trauma or Injury: A sudden injury or trauma, such as a car accident or fall, can result in damage to the sciatic nerve or nearby structures, leading to irritation and pain.

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormonal changes and the growing uterus can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica in some expectant mothers.

Inflammation or Infection: Inflammatory conditions such as spinal infections or conditions like sciatic neuritis (inflammation of the sciatic nerve) can cause irritation and pain along the nerve.

Muscle Spasm or Imbalance: Muscle spasms or imbalances in the lower back, buttocks, or legs can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and lead to symptoms of sciatica. Inactivity, long time sitting, can also put pressure on some structures that can irritate the nerve. 

It’s essential to remember that sciatica can have various underlying causes, and the symptoms can vary depending on the location and severity of the nerve compression. If you experience persistent or severe pain, weakness, or numbness along the sciatic nerve pathway, it’s crucial to seek medical evaluation to identify the specific cause and receive appropriate treatment. A healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a spine specialist, can help diagnose the issue and recommend a plan accordingly. 

Remedies and treatment

There are several remedies and stretching exercises that may help alleviate sciatic pain. These remedies are generally aimed at reducing inflammation, improving flexibility, and strengthening the muscles to support the lower back and pelvis. They will provide help to a certain extent, but if you do suffer from sciatica like symptoms, it might be appropriate to investigate the root cause of the problem, rather than taking care of the symptoms (and be back at square one in two months time). Here are some suggestions:

Rest: Give your body time to heal by taking short periods of rest. Avoid prolonged sitting or activities that exacerbate the pain.

Hot and Cold Therapy: Applying a hot pack or a cold pack to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief.

Over-the-counter Pain Relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help reduce pain and inflammation.

Exercise: Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and gentle stretching can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

Correct Posture: Maintaining good posture can reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. Use ergonomic chairs and ensure proper lumbar support.

Lifting Technique: Practice proper lifting techniques to avoid putting additional strain on your back.

Sleeping Position: Sleep on a medium-firm mattress with a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side, or under your knees if you sleep on your back.

Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on your lower back.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting: If you have a sedentary job, take regular breaks to move around and stretch.


Here are some gentle stretching exercises that may help relieve sciatic pain. Remember to perform them slowly and cautiously, avoiding any movements that cause sharp pain:

Hamstring Stretch

Lie on your back with one leg extended and the other leg raised.

Loop a towel or belt around the raised foot and gently pull it towards you.

Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs.

Piriformis Stretch

Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor.

Cross one ankle over the opposite knee.

Gently lean forward to feel a stretch in the buttocks.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Seated Spinal Twist

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.

Bend one knee and place the foot on the outside of the opposite knee.

Twist your upper body towards the bent knee, placing the opposite elbow against the knee.

Hold the twist for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides.

Child’s Pose

Kneel on the floor, sit back on your heels, and stretch your arms forward.

Lower your chest towards the floor while keeping your arms extended.

Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

Cat-Cow Stretch

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

Arch your back up like a cat, then drop it down into a swayback position (cow).

Repeat the sequence for 1-2 minutes, gently moving with your breath.

Video Resources

How to relieve sciatica in seconds (YouTube)

The ONE exercise you must do for sciatica pain relief (YouTube)

Five Stretches to relieve sciatica (YouTube)


Chiropractic care is a complementary and alternative medical approach that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those related to the spine. Chiropractors often treat conditions such as lower back pain, neck pain, and also (and with very good results) sciatica. If you have sciatic pain, chiropractic care may offer huge benefits. Here’s how chiropractic treatment for sciatica works:

Initial Assessment: When you visit a chiropractor for sciatic pain, they will first conduct a thorough assessment of your medical history and perform a physical examination. This evaluation helps them understand the root cause of your sciatica and rule out any underlying conditions that may require medical intervention.

Spinal Adjustment: The hallmark of chiropractic care is spinal adjustment or spinal manipulation. Chiropractors use their hands or specialized instruments to apply controlled, sudden force to specific joints of the spine. The goal is to improve spinal alignment and mobility, reducing pressure on the nerves, including the sciatic nerve. By realigning the spine, chiropractors aim to release the pressure on the nerve, alleviate nerve irritation and inflammation, which relieves sciatic pain.

Exercise and rehab

Chiropractors may recommend specific exercises to strengthen the core and support the lower back, which can help in the long-term management of sciatic pain.

Education and Lifestyle Advice: Chiropractors often provide guidance on ergonomics, posture, and lifestyle modifications to help prevent future episodes of sciatic pain. They may suggest changes in daily habits or exercises that promote spinal health.

It’s essential to note that the effectiveness of chiropractic care for sciatica can vary depending on the individual’s specific condition and the cause of the sciatic pain. Chiropractic care is generally considered safe when performed by a licensed and trained professional, but it may not be suitable for everyone. If you have severe or worsening sciatic pain, neurological symptoms, or a history of spinal conditions, it’s crucial to consult with your primary healthcare provider before seeking chiropractic treatment.

As with any medical intervention, it’s essential to communicate openly with your chiropractor about your symptoms and concerns. A collaborative approach that considers various treatment options may provide the best outcomes for managing sciatic pain effectively.

Remember to listen to your body, and if any exercise increases your pain or discomfort, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional. The effectiveness of these remedies and exercises can vary from person to person, so it’s crucial to find what works best for you. Always seek professional medical advice before starting any new exercise program or if you experience persistent or severe pain.

Edoardo Elisei DC

Alive Chiropractic LTD
1C Crown Gate Square


Alive Chiropractic Poundbury

1C Crown gate square DT1 3EJ

Poundbury, Dorchester

Phone Number



A collection of informative and engaging videos that offer visual insights into the world of chiropractic care. Visual content is a powerful tool for education and empowerment, allowing you to deepen your understanding of chiropractic principles, techniques, and the benefits of maintaining a healthy spine.

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12:52 03 May 24
Fantastic informative straightforward information looking forward to working with Edo
Linda Jukes
Linda Jukes
18:07 01 May 24
I have had back pain for many years and tried lots of different ways to ease it, with no success. From my first appointment at Alive Chiropractic Clinic, I could feel an improvement. I am so pleased with the results after a 12 week course. The clinic is superb and Edo is friendly and supportive. I will continue to visit the clinic and recommend to everyone!
Gary Rolls
Gary Rolls
19:48 24 Apr 24
I have been a patient of the Alive Chiropractor clinic for the last six weeks. Following a stroke in March 2022 I had been suffering with a walking imbalance and general lack of mobility. I would say that my improvement stands somewhere between 60-70% already. I would happily recommend the clinic to anyone that is suffering to book themselves an appointment.
Peter Waller
Peter Waller
11:29 15 Apr 24
After visiting Dr. Edoardo at the Alive chiropractic clinic, I booked a block booking of 12 sessions. From start to finish he made me feel very comfortable, and as each session went on i began to feel much better within myself.As well as the work he done with me in the clinic, he has taught me many different exercises to help me with the problems in which i suffer with, as well as explaining to me how my diet can also help me going forward.He has been a great help, and i shall continue to see him in the future so that he can help me maintain ( and improve) my well being.RegardsPeter
leonie macdonald
leonie macdonald
16:15 18 Mar 24
I was greeted by an interested and professional person. I was helped to deal with a recent trauma, not only with deep breathing techniques and compassion but also accurate chiropractic treatment. Every time I left my appointment I felt a profound sense of healing.
Emma Simmons
Emma Simmons
20:34 07 Jan 24
My experience from the very first consultation has been excellent! Edo is extremely knowledgeable and a great professional. His holistic outlook and advice brings benefits beyond his chiropractic adjustments, which is an added bonus! I would highly recommend his practice.
olly morency
olly morency
09:16 21 Nov 23
An excellent service; Edo helped me with corrections for my back, and advice on how to improve my health span with breath work and improved movement. Strong recommend!
Moira Priestley
Moira Priestley
20:18 15 Oct 23
I found the treatment I received very beneficial. My sciatica has eased a lot and I am sleeping much better. I would highly recommend Alive Chiropractic.
Ben Boughton-White
Ben Boughton-White
06:04 15 Oct 23
A fantastic chiropractic experience!Dr Edo provides a whole body approach to resolving chiropractic issues. His care plan to help solve your unique issues is fantastic, short and simple adjustments rather than long sessions of big adjustments has worked brilliantly for me. Communications are easy and booking ahead is brilliant for me and my schedule.I can’t recommend Alive highly enough!
Benny Clifford
Benny Clifford
15:53 25 Sep 23
Dr Edo has been a great help in getting me moving again, and he is a trustworthy pair of hands in his field of work. Top man!The reception is also very welcoming. I very much recommend this place!
Jane Bygraves
Jane Bygraves
12:30 14 Sep 23
I have a better range of movement and am moving more freely after a course of gentle, thorough treatment with Alive Chiropractic. My energy levels have improved.
Sarah Spadon
Sarah Spadon
18:48 10 Sep 23
I’ve been adjusted by Dr Edoardo for a number of years now, since I’ve been under care I’ve never had any problems but most importantly he helps me keep my nervous system healthy through maintenance care which allows me to be more in control in all of my day to day activities and keeps my mind healthy. His adjustments are gentle and precise and he is really kind and makes you feel at ease in any moment. Highly recommend!
11:05 10 Sep 23
This is my first experience with chiropractic ever, and it has been life changing! I have a slipped lumbar disc and I was in lots of pain and had very limited mobility. I saw Edo for a few appointments and not only did my back get better, it has stayed that way since! I am doing the exercises he prescribed and now I am only seeing him for maintenance and I feel better than ever, more relaxed and aware of my posture overall . He is a good listener, very informative, professional and communicative.
Isabella White
Isabella White
07:15 08 Sep 23
A wonderful experience so far with Dr Edo at his clinic in Poundbury. I have come away from my first six sessions feeling so much more aware and in tune with my body, and I have experienced noticeable changes in my body and mindset also.Dr Edo is professional, knowledge, and believes firmly in his work which he is clearly passionate about. I feel he has an empowering vision, cares deeply, and has a refreshing balance of western and eastern understanding. Because of this, Dr Edo has a deeper, holistic approach by taking into account all aspects of one's lifestyle (diet, exercise, mental/emotional state) in sessions. For someone like myself who values a holistic perspective on health, Dr Edo's approach is invaluable and helped me relax and feel at great ease. Sam in reception is lovely and you instantly feel welcomed when coming in for a session also. Thank you to you both. Highly recommend!
Chris Copeland
Chris Copeland
20:59 16 Aug 23
Dr. Edo has a very calm temperament and his knowledge aids in your own relaxation, which is a help when your own flexibility, mobility or posture are far from relaxed. Sam, the Chiropractic assistant, is the first person to greet you when you arrive and will explain the fundamentals of the practice. The practice is clean, modern and has ample road side parking. The whole experience has been a success and I am now able to move without pain, the new mobility gained will enable me to get on with life and have new experiences and adventures, for this I thank you.
Sonya Hendry
Sonya Hendry
18:21 16 Aug 23
I have been coming to see Ed at Alive Chiropractic since opening. Visiting regularly is enabling me to have a more comfortable and mobile life. The ambiance and warm welcome, along with total professionalism means so much.
Alison Michele Williams
Alison Michele Williams
20:49 30 Jul 23
A great, professional, friendly service. A whole rounded approach to better well being and healthy body.Thank you!
Tessa Aindow
Tessa Aindow
16:58 13 Jul 23
Brilliant experience. My back has improved so much and I don’t have the same aches and pains. Dr Edo is very professional and gives great advice and exercises to help alongside the adjustments at the clinic.
Malwina T
Malwina T
15:56 19 Jun 23
Great and unique treatment. Eased the lower back pain significantly! Changed my outlook on chiropractic treatments and self care. Highly recommend!!!
jill cheng
jill cheng
09:17 16 Jun 23
I visited the clinic after suffering with low back pain for nearly ten years. The chiropractor helped me regain functionality and quality of life. More importantly, he helped me understand and connect some aspects of my life to my body and how it works, strongly recommended 👍🏻
20:41 14 Jun 23
I have known Edoardo since day one at Chiropractic College, and I have witnessed his growing passion for this profession. His long time experience as a Yoga Instructor, combined to his deep knowledge into the Chiropractic art, science and philosophy, will make your journey towards healthy-living a very pleasant experience. Book that appointment and enjoy feeling better!
Paul Ansell
Paul Ansell
12:33 08 Feb 23
All my life I’ve had bad posture and bad back I’ve been to doctors specialists and always same outcome I’ve got to live with it. At the age of 58 I went to this practice and he has done wonders this is the best I have ever been since I can remember. Highly recommend
Zoe Ratcliffe
Zoe Ratcliffe
17:05 30 Jan 23
I attended Alive chiropractor after seeing a special offer they were offering and suffering from a bad back for a long time it felt like a good idea to go see what they said. Since this I have been attending twice a week and the improvements are happening. Edo is very knowledgeable and really wants the best for you he doesn't just care about the back or other pains you may be having but also acknowledges the impact these things can have on you emotionally and personally. I can't recommend this service enough.
Michelle Lambell
Michelle Lambell
21:55 24 Jan 23
Regular sessions with Dr Edo at Alive Chiropractic have made such a big difference to my posture, my way of working at my desk and taught me how to manage my breathing, all of which have led to a big shift in my mindset towards looking after myself and my body.I will happily recommend Alive Chiropractic to my friends.
Paul Nicol
Paul Nicol
08:22 30 Sep 22
I have just finished initial treatment for my back problem. Appointments with the NHS in the past have never resulted in a diagnosis let alone treatment. However at Alive I received a diagnosis and treatment plan on the initial consultation. This set out exactly how I was going to be treated and cost. Following the treatment I could not be healthier or happier. An exceptionally professional service in which Dr Edoardo Elisei seems passionate about what he does. It is more than just a hands on treatment on his 'couch', but a full lifestyle treatment ensuring exercises and diet are in balance to assist recovery and as a preventative for the future. I would be happy to recommend to anyone.
claudia marcela lopez gallardo
claudia marcela lopez gallardo
08:05 30 Jul 22
Edo is a great professional, very friendly and knowledgeable. He corrected my posture in only few months, he said this was going to happen and I couldn't believe it, it was so fast and happened, the changes not only I could feel them but also you can see them. He did the adjustments with a lot of care, with a lot of patience he took the time to give the advices and exercises that I could benefit my posture in the future. I totally recommend him.
10:18 18 Jul 22
When I first met Dr Ed I had problems bending, and worst of all I could hardly move my neck. I was a total painful wreck.Ed takes a very holistic approach, encouraging me to lose weight and work on different rehab exercises to reinforce the manipulations and adjustments he made.Here I am some three months on, I weigh a lot less, I have incredible flexibility in my lower back and can now touch my toes and, best of all. I have full flexibility of my neck.Eds holistic approach really works, he is very approachable and easy to chat about things with.One caveat, Ed knows when you haven't done your exercises so don't cheat. :)I cannot thank him enough for the massive improvements in my health and his encouraging me to make little changes for a healthier long term lifestyle.
Elaine Daniel
Elaine Daniel
13:05 07 Jul 22
I saw Edo in March and he was so informative regarding my spinal issues. I have had many treatments from him over the past few months and feel so much better and have more movement and less pain. He provides exercises for clients to help with strengthening muscles which is all part and parcel of chiropractic healing. I would recommend going to see him anytime.
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