Sciatica Case Study

Disc Bulge pressing on Nerve Root.

Sciatica Case Study 3.

Mrs. R. is a 42 year old Office Administrator from Didsbury who presented to the clinic with severe right sided lower back and leg pain.


The symptoms had started three weeks before after an intense weekend of spring cleaning. Initially she had right sided lower back stiffness and ache but within days this had become quite severe and it began to travel down her right leg to her foot. In addition she became aware of a sensation of ‘pins and needles’ in outer surface of her right foot.

After three days Mrs. R. got an appointment with her GP and he diagnosed Sciatica. She asked about a physiotherapy referral and was informed that there was an 8 week waiting list and he prescribed strong pain killers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The painkillers and NSAIDs did help to ‘take the edge of her symptoms’ but she was still finding it difficult to get comfortable and to get much sleep at night. A friend recommended going to see an osteopath and told her about Cheadle Osteopathy.

After the initial Consultation we confirmed that Mrs. R. was indeed experiencing Sciatica. We explained that Sciatica is only a symptom, describing what is happening but it doesn’t explain what the actual cause is. We explained that the clinical findings pointed towards a small ‘disc bulge’ in her lower back (see diagram). However we did inform her that the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis is an MRI Scan and if she agreed we could write to her GP with our findings to see if he wanted to refer her for a scan.

In the meantime we reassured her that we could commence treatment (to help relieve pain, improve tissue tone and improve range of movement) and we also started to introduce short and long term ‘management’ goals:

  • > lifestyle and work improvements.
  • > realistic expectations and timescales.
  • > appropriate exercise and rehabilitation program.

Osteopathic Treatment

After two to three treatments over the course of three weeks Mrs. R. stated that her sciatica felt 50 to 60% better. The pain no longer travelled down her leg and she no longer had pins and needles in her foot. As her pain levels decreased her sleep pattern improved, her overall outlook and morale became more optimistic. After 5 weeks she felt as though she could return to work. She liaised closely with her HR department and they organised a gradual return schedule starting with light duties on reduced hours.


We are pleased to say that after 3 months Mrs. R. continues to make great progress, and feels that she is 90% recovered from her sciatica. She is back to a normal working day but she has made a number of essential changes. We have given her guidance on workstation set up and advised her rehabilitation and exercise.

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