The longest nerve

In International Therapist Spring 2021 (Issue 136), FHT accredited course provider and physiotherapist Jane Johnson contributed an article on sciatica which looks at how therapists can support clients living with the condition.

Jane gives an insight into the function of the sciatic nerve, common causes of sciatica, symptoms and medical/non-medical support that can be given. She writes, ‘Sciatica is a condition for which hands-on treatment of the local area may not be appropriate. However, there are many other ways in which a therapist can support someone living with sciatic pain.

‘The first thing to do when treating a client with sciatica is to quantify as best you can, how much pain the person is in and to what level the condition is affecting their life. One way to do this is to ask them about their symptoms using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) or a Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS). Both the VAS and the NPRS have
been adopted as recommended outcome measures by the Faculty of Pain Medicine and the British Pain Society (British Pain Society, 2019).

‘The reason for finding out your client’s level of pain is because it helps when setting a treatment goal, as well as for documenting whether their pain reduces and by how much. For example, if a person reports that their buttock and hamstring pain is 9/10 on a NPRS, one of your goals might be to reduce buttock and hamstring pain from 9/10 over a two-week period.

‘People sometimes feel that their pain is unrelenting, but you can help them to identify those times when they may not have 9/10 pain (for example), and which factors aggravate or ease their symptoms. Helping a client to identify that there are times when they may be pain free, even if for only a few minutes, can be comforting for them.’

Read the full article as featured in International Therapist magazine.

About the author:

Jane Johnson is an FHT accredited course provider and a physiotherapist with a passion for helping therapists to gain confidence in hands-on techniques. A massage and sports therapist for many years, she appreciates the value of touch and thrives on sharing the many tips she has picked up over the years. Jane is the author of six books for therapists: Soft Tissue Release, Therapeutic Stretching, Deep Tissue Massage, Postural Assessment, Postural Correction and the Big Back Book; Tips and Tricks for Therapists. You can contact Jane on her Facebook page @thefriendlyphysio

In each issue of FHT’s membership magazine, International Therapist, we publish features from well respected contributors like Jane. International Therapist is a perk for FHT members, to become a member visit

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