Beyond the Pain: The Hidden Consequences of Chronic Sciatica

Beyond the Pain: The Hidden Consequences of Chronic Sciatica

Sciatica is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is caused by the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. Sciatica can cause a wide range of symptoms, including pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, hips, legs, and feet. While sciatica can be a temporary condition that resolves on its own or with treatment, untreated or chronic sciatica can have long-term consequences on the individual’s health and quality of life.

One of the most significant long-term consequences of untreated or chronic sciatica is the development of chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months, and it can have a severe impact on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. The pain can be constant or intermittent, and it can be debilitating, making it difficult for the individual to perform daily activities, work, or participate in social events. Chronic pain can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, which can further exacerbate the sciatica symptoms.

Another consequence of untreated or chronic sciatica is the loss of mobility, flexibility, or feeling in the lower extremities. Sciatica can cause muscle weakness and stiffness, making it difficult for the individual to move around freely or perform physical activities. This loss of mobility can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which can have negative effects on the individual’s overall health, including weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Additionally, the loss of flexibility can make it difficult for the individual to maintain good posture, leading to further strain on the back and neck muscles.

Untreated or chronic sciatica can also lead to nerve damage. If left untreated, the pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause permanent damage, leading to the loss of sensation or function in the affected area. Nerve damage can have significant consequences, including muscle weakness, loss of balance, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

Finally, untreated or chronic sciatica can lead to complications during pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause the sciatic nerve to become compressed or irritated, leading to sciatica symptoms. If the sciatica is left untreated, it can cause complications during pregnancy, such as premature labor or a difficult delivery. Additionally, pregnancy can exacerbate existing sciatica symptoms, making it difficult for the mother to move around freely and care for herself and her baby.

Sciatica courtesy of INSYNC Wellness (Read the caption)

From pain to progress: How physiotherapists treat sciatica

Physiotherapy is a form of healthcare that specializes in the management and treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions, including sciatica. A physiotherapist is a licensed healthcare professional who works with patients to help them regain their strength, mobility, and function following an injury, illness, or surgery. In the case of sciatica, physiotherapy can be a highly effective treatment option, helping to alleviate pain and improve the patient’s quality of life.

The primary goal of physiotherapy for sciatica is to reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent the condition from becoming chronic. A physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment of the patient’s condition, including their medical history, symptoms, and range of motion. Based on this assessment, they will develop a personalized treatment plan that may include a variety of techniques and modalities.

One of the most common techniques used by physiotherapists for sciatica is exercise therapy. Exercise therapy involves specific exercises designed to strengthen the muscles in the affected area, improve mobility, and reduce pain. These exercises may include stretching, strengthening, and range of motion exercises. The physiotherapist will also teach the patient proper body mechanics and posture to avoid aggravating the condition and promote healing.

Manual therapy is another common treatment modality used by physiotherapists for sciatica. Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques, such as massage, manipulation, and mobilization, to improve joint and soft tissue mobility and reduce pain. The physiotherapist may also use heat or ice therapy, electrotherapy, or ultrasound to help alleviate pain and promote healing.

Education is a critical component of physiotherapy for sciatica. The physiotherapist will educate the patient about their condition, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. They will also teach the patient about proper body mechanics, posture, and ergonomics to prevent further injury and promote healing.

In addition to these techniques, a physiotherapist may also work with the patient to develop a home exercise program. This program will consist of exercises that the patient can perform on their own between appointments to promote healing and maintain strength and flexibility. The physiotherapist will provide guidance and support to ensure that the patient is performing the exercises correctly and making progress.

Physiotherapy is a safe and effective treatment option for sciatica. It is non-invasive, drug-free, and has few side effects. It is also a cost-effective treatment option, as it can reduce the need for more expensive and invasive treatments, such as surgery.

In conclusion, a physiotherapist can be an essential part of the treatment team for individuals with sciatica. By using a combination of exercise therapy, manual therapy, education, and home exercise programs, a physiotherapist can help to reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent the condition from becoming chronic. If you are experiencing sciatica symptoms, seeking the care of a physiotherapist may be an excellent first step in managing your condition and improving your quality of life.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no single “fastest” way to cure sciatica as the treatment will depend on the individual case and severity of the condition. However, some common treatment options for sciatica include physiotherapy, chiropractic care, pain medication, injections and in some cases, surgery. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most effective treatment plan for your specific case of sciatica. Each case of sciatica is different and can last varying amounts of time. 

In some cases, sciatica can heal on its own over time. However, the healing process can be slow and may take several weeks to months. It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing sciatica symptoms, as a healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options to help manage pain and promote healing. Do not wait to see a health professional for the pain, as delaying treatment may increase the time it takes to heal. 

For individuals experiencing sciatic nerve pain, the best sleeping position is typically on their side with a pillow between their knees. This position helps to maintain a neutral spine alignment and reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. If this is not effective, lying on your back with a pillow underneath the knees can help maintain a proper alignment of the spine and decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve. It is also important to use a supportive mattress and pillow to provide proper support for the spine and promote restful sleep. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on the best sleeping position for your specific case of sciatic nerve pain.

About Dr. Michael Carriero

Clinical Director Dr. Michael Carriero, is a graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, and has also completed Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) Specialized Honours, at York University. Dr. Carriero is extremely unique, in that he is also a Massage Therapist graduate from the Royal Canadian College of Massage Therapy and Acupuncture Provider from McMaster University.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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