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Sciatica Service

The sciatica service at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital offers treatment to people with sciatica. Our multidisciplinary service is delivered by a team of experts including spinal surgeons and specialist orthopaedic physiotherapy practitioners.

The sciatica service offers:

  • An appointment to see a physiotherapy practitioner within a month of referral
  • Access to an MRI within a week (depending on urgency)
  • Direct access to spinal injections
  • Fast-track service for microdiscectomy or decompression.
What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain, 'pins and needles', numbness or weakness felt in the leg that radiates from your lower back.

Self-management in the early stages

In the early stages, sciatica can be very painful; although you may feel like resting in bed or on the sofa, this has been shown to hinder your recovery. The vast majority of episodes of sciatica will settle within a couple of months. It's important that you try to keep active, doing normal day-to-day activities. You may need painkillers from your GP to enable you to do this. Research suggests that keeping mobile will make it more likely that you will recover. Physiotherapy may be helpful too – ask your GP to refer you to a local service or you may be suitable to refer yourself to our team at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.

Although rare, if you experience significant weakness in the legs or feet, or you lose control and feeling or bladder and bowel control, you should seek medical attention immediately. 

When to access the Sciatica Service

Generally, if your symptoms are persistent and disabling after several weeks, your GP can refer you to the sciatica service. We will discuss your symptoms and what treatment options are best for you.

Common Procedures

The treatments we offer include:

  • Advice and reassurance, particularly if your symptoms are improving (in most cases they do)
  • Physiotherapy
  • X-rays and scans as needed
  • Injections, such as epidurals
  • Referral to a surgeon to discuss whether an operation will help.

Contact Us

To find out more or ask a question, please contact Andy Emms, Lead Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Practitioner at 0121 685 4296 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More Information

Information for GPs, how to refer and referral criteria
How to refer
  • Choose and Book: Service ID is 7917884 or search ‘sciatica new clinic’
  • Telephone: 0121 685 4296
  • Referral letter: Sciatica Service, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Bristol Road South, Northfield, Birmingham, B31 2AP
Referral criteria


  • Radicular pattern of leg pain of more than 2/52 duration
  • Dermatomal distribution of leg pain/sensory change
  • Predominant leg pain over back pain
  • Motor power no less than 3/5
  • Minimal psychosocial issues
  • Comorbidity not precluding spinal injection and/or surgery
  • Significant disability i.e. off work
  • On significant/maximal analgesia
  • Patient willing and able to be considered for conservative and/or interventional therapies targeting sciatica.


  • Known mechanical failure of the spine i.e. significant spondylolisthesis
  • Previous spinal surgery
  • Symptoms suggestive of cauda equina syndrome (patient needs referral to ROH on-call service or local Emergency Department).
  • Systemic symptoms suggestive of sinister pathology or infection.