This episode answers the question “Should I see a chiropractor, physio or osteopath for my sciatica?” and you will learn:
- Yes, you can see a chiropractor, a physio or an osteopath for your sciatica
- Which of these I’ve consulted myself
- What I’ve learned about choosing between a chiropractor, a physio or an osteopath for sciatica
- How to decide whether or not to stick with an approach/clinician
Depending on where you live, it might be a massage therapist or a physical therapist rather than an osteopath or a chiro. These may not be regulated professions. Where I live, in Scotland, osteopaths and chiropractors are statutorily regulated. In the world of physio-therapy, you’re looking for a state registered physiotherapist or member of the chartered society of physiotherapists. Sadly, in the UK, the title physio or physiotherapist itself is not protected. Make sure you look for those SRP, R M C S P letters after the name.
Yes, you can see a chiropractor, a physio or an osteopath for your sciatica
All of these professions can help with sciatica. It’s very difficult to choose. There are more differences within each profession than there are between them. You could go to an osteo one day and a chiro the next day and not see a difference. You could go to a different osteopath the following day and think it had nothing to do with the first osteopath you saw. The clinical guidelines in the United Kingdom and other parts of Western world encourage the use of ostio, chiro or physios. They should have not only experience in manipulative physiotherapy, but also qualifications. If you need help with short term lower back pain (less than 6-12 weeks old), these three professions can help you.
Which of these I’ve consulted myself
I have consulted all three professions for sciatica back in my twenties, when I had seven years of lower back pain and sciatica, on and off, a lot of it. I probably had more days with pain than without. Finally, I started taking my own medicine or advice and got on top of it. I’ve seen a couple of chiros, one in particular who I thought practice very similarly to me, that I’m an osteopath. I’ve seen some osteopaths I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, but the same and the other two professions as well.
My ex sister-in-law was a pretty hands-on chartered physio, more exercise oriented than I was at the time. Be careful with exercise. It has to be relevant to you, and not just kind of “these exercises are good for you”. We always work out what exercises are going to be beneficial for you, for the things that you want to be able to do in life.
What I have learned about choosing between a chiropractor, a physio or an osteopath for sciatica
If you’re trying to choose based on profession alone, that’s a difficult thing to do. You really need ideally an insight. In the old days, a lot of us choose by asking a friend, we had a chat with a friend face to face or a family member, and we got personal recommendation. Now, if you’re like most people, you pick up your phone and you Google it or look up on whatever social media platform you’re on and you choose. If you’re going to choose that way, reviews from people can be helpful.
How to decide whether or not to stick with an approach
Look for a practitioner or practice that empowers you and helps you help yourself. The world of manual therapy, over many decades, has been dominated by passive therapy approaches: you come in, I do something to you and you walk out and feel better, and the transaction is over. You will want to come and see me 10 or 12 times to repeat that process. That was the traditional model. It doesn’t work, though. If someone is doing things to you, but not empowering you, you’re going to relapse and go back to them. Their business model is built on that. Ask yourself: “is this person really providing me with great value? Are they helping me understand how I got into this mess and how to avoid it from happening again?” If not, look for another practitioner who gives you content about how to help yourself.
If you’d like a free online assessment of lower back pain / sciatica, click the link.