All about sciatica

Written by: Mr Raghu Vindlacheruvu
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

Sciatica is a commonly occurring type of pain which affects the sciatic nerve. Statistics demonstrate that 13-40% of the UK population will experience sciatica in at some point in their lifetime. Esteemed consultant neurosurgeon  Mr Raghu Vindlacheruvu explains everything you need to know about sciatica, including causes, risk factors and the most effective treatment methods.


What is sciatica?


Sciatica is a medical condition characterised by pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the back of each leg. Sciatica typically affects only one side of the body.



Sciatica pain develops when something begins to compress or irritate the sciatic nerve. The pain may be extreme and be debilitating to the patient. It may also provoke some tingling or numbness in the back or bum, which can travel down the leg.


What are some common causes of sciatica?


The most frequent cause of sciatica is a herniated. However, it may occur due to conditions such as:


What are the risk factors for development of sciatica?


The following factors may mean that you may be at risk of developing sciatica:


  • Being between the ages of 30 and 50.
  • Being overweight.
  • Wearing high heels.
  • Smoking.
  • Sleeping on a mattress which is either too soft or too hard.


What are some exercises and methods that can help to relieve pain from sciatica?


There are various exercises you can do and methods to use which can help to relieve pain from sciatica. These include:


  • Knee-to-chest stretch.
  • The pigeon pose.
  • The seated spinal twist.
  • Walking.
  • Swimming.


To aid pain relief you can also try some at home remedies such as applying heat or cold packs to the affected area, taking over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen.


It is essential to consult with your doctor before undertaking any exercise programme, and if you are experiencing symptoms such as severe or persistent pain, weakness in the legs, or loss of bladder or bowel control, you must seek immediate medical attention.


How long does it take for sciatica to heal?


The healing time for sciatica depends on a variety of factors, including how severe the condition is. Sciatica pain usually goes away on its own within a few weeks. However, as previously mentioned, it is important to speak with your doctor if you experience severe or persistent pain.


What other methods can be used to treat sciatica?


Sciatica can also be treated with physical therapy and surgery. 


There are two surgical options available to treat sciatica; discectomy and laminectomy. A discectomy removes the damaged portion of a herniated disk, while a laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the vertebral bone named the lamina.


Both procedures are used as methods of pain relief for pressure affecting the spinal cord and nerves.





If you would like to book an appointment with Mr Vindlacheruvu, do not hesitate to do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile today.

By Mr Raghu Vindlacheruvu

Mr Raghu Vindlacheruvu is a highly respected consultant neurosurgeon with nearly 20 years’ experience. His private practice is in Brentwood and Chelmsford, Essex. He is expert in the diagnosis and treatment in many neurosurgical conditions, focusing primarily on back pain, sciatica, neck pain, spondylolisthesis, brain tumours, and brain aneurysms.

Mr Vindlacheruvu began his medical journey at the world-renowned University of Cambridge, graduating with a MB BChir in 1993. Upon completion of his medical studies and pre-registration year, he undertook basic surgical training in London and became a specialist registrar in neurosurgery in Newcastle, where he spent eight years, gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience. He has a special interest in vascular neurosurgery (aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), cavernoma), brain tumours, hydrocephalus and trauma.

He also treats degenerative spinal conditions advising on physiotherapy and medications, undertaking targeted injections and performing surgery where indicated such as cervical disc replacement, and discectomy or decompression throughout the spine. Mr Vindlacheruvu is committed to constantly improving conditions for both patients and surgeons. He spent several years as the clinical lead and head of department at Queen's Hospital, Romford, during which he oversaw huge departmental growth, aiding the development of specialist nurses and adhering to a robust clinical governance framework.

He is actively involved in various medical groups and organisations, currently holding the role of chair of the British Neurovascular Group (elected by peers), and the national neurosurgery lead for Green Surgery Project. Furthermore, he is a member of the National Neurosurgery Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, Society of British Neurological Surgeons and the British Association of Spinal Surgeons.

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