Physiotherapy Management of Sciatica, does early intervention improve outcomes?

Michael Reddington vertical size 300Michael Reddington has recently joined DTS after being awarded a NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship. Michael will undertake his fellowship at ScHARR part-time over 4 years. He will remain working in the NHS for the remaining day, as a Spinal Extended Scope Physiotherapist for the spinal surgeons in Sheffield.

Sciatica is a relatively common condition affecting one or more nerves in the lower back serving the legs. Sciatica often presents as pain, altered sensation and/or weakness in the leg(s) and can be extremely painful and disabling. Optimal treatment for sciatica remains elusive, with both surgery and conservative care proving effective. Physiotherapy for sciatica is widely advocated in the U.K and is available on the NHS. The timing of physiotherapy treatment varies greatly geographically dependent on local commissioning groups decisions rather than any clear evidence.

The mixed methods study will involve an external pilot study and individual patient interviews. The pilot trial will randomise 80 patients to early intervention physiotherapy or usual care in 2 centres. Both groups will receive the same ‘package’ of care, determined by the individual patients requirements. The primary feasibility outcomes will help determine the prospect of developing a full-scale trial in the future.
Patient interviews will be carried out in both groups in order to achieve a greater understanding of patients’ experiences of the condition, its treatment and the care pathways they have been through.

Michael is supervised by Professor Stephen Walters , Dr Judith Cohen and Dr Jonathan Boote.

NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship(CDRF-2014-05-046)