The question to ask if you're told you have sciatica...

Video Transcript:

Hi, everyone! I’m James Harrison from Connective Chiropractic in Basingstoke.  Now, if you don’t know me, I am the Principal Chiropractor and owner of Connective Chiropractic. I’m also a wellbeing speaker and an expert witness. I also teach at one of the Chiropractic colleges. In this video, I want to tell you a little bit more about sciatica.

In this video, I want to tell you a little bit more about sciatica. Sciatica probably is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed issues that we see and talk about within the clinic. I want to give you a bit of information as to why, and some of the pitfalls that tend to be going on behind the scenes. So let’s first talk a little bit about sciatica or sciatic pain.

Sciatica is not a diagnosis

Now, the first thing is, is sciatica is not a proper diagnosis. So if you get a GP, Chiropractor, Osteopath, Physiotherapist or anybody telling you you’ve got sciatica, the question I would recommend that you ask is so why what’s causing it because sciatica is actually a symptom.

Sciatica is that burning sensation you get down your leg when the sciatic nerve is irritated. That’s what sciatica is. So the question is “what’s irritating the nerve” because the answer to that question is the cause of that pain or discomfort.

What is irritating the sciatic nerve?

But, you’ll see sciatica being mentioned as a diagnosis quite a lot. It’s everywhere from medical tomes, even some chiropractic tomes. They’ll talk about sciatica as a final illness or a diagnosis, but there are actually lots of causes to sciatic pain. It’s not detailed enough. So get that information what’s going on. What’s causing it?

Sciatica and leg pain are not the same

A key thing that I’m seeing a lot at the moment since COVID are GPs saying that people have got sciatica when they’ve got leg pain and they keep saying you’ve got sciatica, but the reality is is sciatica and leg pain are not the same things. You can have many causes of leg pain that are not sciatica.

It’s worth knowing true sciatica is caused by more than just one nerve.

Sciatica is a pinching of the sciatic nerve. But, please note that to get true sciatic pain, you’re not just talking about one nerve.  The sciatic nerve is a bundle of lots of nerves that originate from your lower back. They go through what’s called a plexus of nerves (a grouping of nerves.) They then bundle into one really rather big nerve that goes right down to the bottom of your foot, down the back of your leg. This is the sciatic nerve.

So, if you are getting aches and pains down your leg, but it’s not following the distribution of the sciatic nerve, I can tell you automatically it is not true sciatica. 

Neurological pain versus sciatica

You’ll be amazed at how many people don’t know that. We have countless patients who come see us the first time saying, “Oh, my specialist, my, my friends, my whatever has told me this is sciatica, but it comes down the front of my leg” or “the side of my leg.” Neurological pain it could be, but sciatica? Not in terms of true sciatica as it wont be compressing or irritating the sciatic nerve. So please be aware.

Take care about misinformation and misdiagnosis 

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, including from people who you might see as a ‘specialist’. Sciatica follows the anatomy of the sciatic nerve. So, if you have leg pain you need to figure out what is causing that rather than automatically labelling it as sciatica…

What to do if you have sciatic pain

If you think your pain could be sciatic, go and see a healthcare professional that knows about it. Chiropractors are really well placed to know about this. We are trained. We all have to have master’s levels degrees in order to know what we’re talking about. And then we have the experience day in, day out of what we do. We see a lot of people with sciatic type pains or pains down the legs or pains originating from that low back. So you can come to us, we will perform some tests so we can decipher what’s going on…

Stop looking for online solutions for sciatica

So, please stop looking online for solutions for sciatica. If we’ve done lots of testing and we can tell you, it’s not, it’s something else, focus on that something else instead. You won’t help yourself otherwise. There’s lots of ways that you can self-manage different types of pain that go down the leg…. You have to know what you’re dealing with, so you can do what’s best for you. And that’s where coming to healthcare practitioners, such as myself, such as a chiropractor can really, really be of benefit.

Take home messages

I hope this video has been useful to know, at least that things are often misdiagnosed, including by health care practitioners too. And ultimately you have to make sure, you know what you’re talking about, Dr. Google is a horrific place for things like sciatica. You get a lot of fear mongering going on…

You want to know what you’re dealing with, how to deal with it and more over, you know, what your action plan is to get out of the aches and pains that hold you back. If you’ve got any queries or comments, feel free to post them around this video, wherever the links are. Or you can email me at If you want us to have a little look and see what’s going on, of course, I’m very, very happy to see you. You can book five at the website, Please be aware that we book fast. So make sure you book early to avoid disappointments…


make sure you’re aware that sciatica is not a diagnosis and that it can mean lots of different things. And if you ever get told you’ve got sciatica or sciatic pain, the question that you should be asking is, okay, so what’s causing it.

James is a true professional, he explains everything he does while he is working and has made a huge difference to my ease of movement.
Sally S

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55 Kingsclere Road,
RG21 6XG

01256 639 452


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Registered Company (10788728) in England & Wales, Registered Address: 55 Kingsclere Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire. RG21 6XG.

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