Sciatic Nerve Treatment

The causes of sciatica and how Bowen Therapy may be able to help

Do you experience tingling, aching or burning in your buttock, hip or down your leg?

If so, you could be experiencing sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica. Other possible symptoms of sciatic nerve impairment are weakness and numbness along the nerve pathway of the leg and foot.

Sciatica is most commonly caused by compression of one or more nerve roots as they exit the lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve (the thickest nerve in the body – about the thickness of your pinkie) is formed by the joining together of these nerve roots.

Why do spinal nerve roots become compressed?

Injury, a sedentary lifestyle and muscle compensation patterns create stress through the lumbar spine, which can cause abnormal wear-and-tear in the vertebra and intervertebral discs.

The discs act as shock absorbers between vertebrae and allow for bending, twisting and movement.

At their normal thickness, discs allow for free passage of nerves as they exit the spine. Abnormal wear-and-tear causes discs to degenerate and often results in compression of a sciatic nerve root.

This condition can become chronic when the fascia and muscles of the low back and core are tight and restricted. The chronically tight muscles and fascia hold and keep in place the tension pattern causing compression and force through the spine.

Under this constant tension, the intervertebral discs can begin to bulge or herniate. The vertebra can also begin to remodel their shape according to the forces and strain placed upon them. Bone spurs and narrowing of the nerve canals (spinal stenosis) often results.

Accelerate the 
healing process, book a Bowen Therapy session today

Common Diagnoses that Underlie Sciatica Nerve Pain

There are several diagnoses that can be made via x-rays or other scans (here are a few): 

Disc Degeneration/Degenerative Disc Disease

This is caused by 'wear-and-tear' of the intervertebral discs

Bulging/Herniated Disc

A disc bulge can appear when the fibrous wall of a disc becomes damaged or is under strain. This bulging out of the disc wall can rub against and irritate a nerve root exiting the spine. When the bulge is significant enough, the fluid centre of the disc (annulus) may push out through the disc wall. This is known as disc herniation.


Refers to degenerative changes in the spine, including osteoarthritis of the vertebral facet joints and degeneration of one or more intervertebral discs. Disc degeneration often leads to arthritic facet joints due to the increased pressure and wear and tear of these joints.

Spinal Stenosis

Narrowing of canals through which the nerves and nerve roots pass. This is often caused by spondylosis.


Commonly caused by arthritis of the vertebral facet joints (also known as spondylosis) leading to stress fracture and a slipping forward of the vertebra. This slippage may compress the nerves in the spinal canal or the nerve roots exiting the spine.

How Bowen Therapy helps with sciatica and back pain

With each of the diagnosis above, the aim of Bowen Therapy is the same – to take the pressure and strain off of the intervertebral discs, facet joints and nerve roots by releasing chronically tight core muscles and allowing atrophied or ‘switched off’ postural muscles to re-engage. This allows the spine to lengthen and re-engages the muscular postural support the spine needs.

This is accomplished through a layering approach in which the superficial fascia and muscles are released first, leading progressively to deeper, core muscles over a series of three to six Bowen sessions. This layering approach is important to ensure the body can adapt and transition smoothly into a more resilient and efficient fascia and muscle balance.

Your body will be assessed as a whole, noting system-wide compensation patterns and previous injuries and traumas. Releasing the compensation patterns as a whole will be the primary treatment focus. In our experience this has been found to provide the best results for long-term recovery.

Along with Bowen, other recommendations may be appropriate, e.g. exercises and stretches, reducing stress and dietary changes to provide necessary nutrients for recovery.

I was in constant pain for five years due to sciatic pain.

Debbie simpson, Hornsby

It was painful to walk and I would dread bending over. It was debilitating in every way.

At work, I made myself do my job, but the pain slowed me down quite a bit. I had to physically focus on every move I made because I knew it was going to be painful. It hurt all the time.

Since having Bowen everything is easier. I don’t shuffle any more, I walk. I stride almost. To be able to walk up steps without having to think about it is so wonderful. I almost needed a Zimmer frame the way I was walking. I couldn’t twist or turn and now I can. You wouldn’t believe the difference.

I am so happy that I am able to get back on the treadmill too. Being able to exercise again is amazing! I’ve lost several kilos and am enjoying buying new clothes.

Bowen has changed my life. After a treatment I can’t help smiling. I always feel at peace and like a weight has been lifted. When I know I’ve got a Bowen appointment, I’m like a big kid – “I’ve got Bowen today! I’ve got Bowen today!”

I definitely recommend that you try Bowen Therapy.

What is Bowen Therapy?

Bowen Therapy is a gentle soft tissue therapy that initiates the body’s innate healing capacity. Bowen Therapy consists of a series of precise rolling movements over muscles, fascia, tendons, nerves and ligaments. These moves are light and can be done through clothing. There are frequent and important pauses between each series of moves giving the body time to benefit from each.

It is very common for clients to experience different sensations during a Bowen treatment as the body begins the healing process. Usually these sensations result from the nervous system releasing any charge it may be holding from previous injuries, accidents or illnesses. This release is part of the natural healing and balancing process that occurs during a Bowen Therapy session.

Below is a case study of Bowen Therapy for low back pain, which gives an idea of how Bowen works and how treatments progress.

I had sciatica with lots of lower back pain, which ran down into my groin and hip, calf and foot. I’d seen an osteopath and I’d had some physio and it helped a little bit, but it hadn’t really done the trick. I was getting quite disheartened and was in quite a bit of pain. I couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t get comfortable anywhere. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation I gave Bowen Therapy a go.

Bowen has been the only thing that has helped me be free of sciatic pain. After about two or three sessions I really noticed a big difference and I’m now pain free.

You can spend a lot of money going to lots of different therapies and trying them all out. I have done that in the past. This is the therapy that has helped me the most. What I like most about Bowen is its gentleness and the way it treats the whole body, not just the problem area. I recommend it for back pain, sciatica or even just stress – because it is very good at calming down anxiety and nervous tension. I can feel it bring my whole body into balance. Somehow I feel more integrated, more light-hearted. I love it – I can’t think of anything else I’d rather have, and I’ve tried a few things. I recommend it to anyone, young or old.

For those looking for a good practitioner, Joshua has been fantastic and is quite intuitive. He honed in on a few other bits and pieces that I didn’t tell him about and included them in his treatment of me. Joshua is gentle and has a lot of compassion. When I’ve asked him questions, he’s answered them. I think that’s very important because people are vulnerable when they have pain and they want to be with someone who understands and listens, and he’s done that. It’s been a lovely experience.

judy h, willoughby

I am amazed at the degree of pain that has been alleviated from my legs and knees after so many years of constant acute pain in my sciatic area, after receiving Bowen treatment. I am able to continue with my normal sporting activities without the constant reminder of ‘pain’ and especially where any form of exercise on a gradient is required.

Veronique donaldson, wahroonga

Case Study: Lower Back Pain & Sciatica

A 34 year old woman suffering from lower back pain, sacrum pain and periods of sciatica, resulting from a car accident 3 ½ years earlier, came to me for Bowen Therapy after trying chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage with little relief. She had been to a variety of doctors who had each given her a different diagnosis: piriformis syndrome, sciatica and iliosacral joint dysfunction, but were unable to assist her.

First Bowen Therapy treatment and its results

Based on the results of the initial assessment I performed a whole body balance which included her lower back, upper back, neck and shoulders, as well as specific work for her pelvis. One week later she returned for her second visit and reported that her lower back pain had disappeared for two days following the treatment. When the lower back pain returned it was different - it was a compressed pain in the lower back rather than pain from spasm.

She also reported that the tension and soreness in her neck and shoulders had gone away and not returned. She commented, “It has been a long time since they have felt this way.”

Second Bowen Therapy Treatment

During my client's second Bowen treatment she felt stiffness in her left leg from the hip to knee and knee to ankle after I performed moves over her gluteus maximus muscles. This response prompted me to do further moves to release the gluteal muscles which resulted in a warm radiating pain in her left hip. It is also very common for people to re-experience pain and sensations similar to what they experienced during the initial traumatic event. It seems to be the body’s way of releasing the cellular memory of the accident or injury – the ‘mark’ or imprint of the trauma is cleared and no longer impacts on the person’s health.

Later in the treatment I did further work for her upper back, pelvis and sacrum.

Third Bowen Therapy Treatment

Before the third treatment, two weeks later, my client reported that she hadn’t had any pain or discomfort whatsoever after the second treatment even though she had been on holiday and doing things which usually aggravate her lower back. With that information, my endeavour for the third treatment was to further the work I had already done so that her pain-free state would be long lasting.

I again worked on the lower back, upper back, neck and shoulders, including a couple of moves for the kidneys, which resulted in pain and sensitivity in the left lower back. This pain and sensitivity was an obvious result of the body, through Bowenwork, addressing deeper structural imbalances.

Conclusion – Low Back Pain Case Study

Bowen Therapy was very effective with this client. She now only comes for occasional 'maintenance' sessions.

I have had back pain for most of my adult life after a car accident in my early twenties. I have tried many different methods with varying results. Recently a friend recommended Bowen Therapy and I started to see Joshua. I have found Bowen to be very beneficial. My body is now more balanced and fluid. I am no longer thinking about my back all the time. My mood has lifted and I am more relaxed. I no longer greet stairs with trepidation and now walk with a spring in my step.

marilyn broadbridge, cremorne

I had back problems, neck problems and a rotating pelvis for over 15 years. I tried chiropractic, acupuncture, pilates, orthotics, physiotherapy, massage and regular exercise, but nothing fixed it permanently, the pain just kept recurring.

Bowen Therapy was recommended by a friend who had a similar problem to mine and had been to Joshua for Bowen; she said it had changed her life. I didn't know anything about Bowen, but I thought I would give it a try.

Bowen is gentle, very relaxing and it works! During the treatment and for a couple of days after you can feel it working. I now have much more rotation in my neck. The problem spots I had for years and years and years have gone. I don't have the intense back pain, especially at night, which used to keep me awake. I am so glad I came across Bowen Therapy. I highly recommended it.

dianne ellis, cremorne

Bowen Therapy was recommended to me but I was skeptical of trying it because I’d never heard of it, and all of the other therapies I tried had failed.

I had a back injury as a result of a major vehicle accident. I went to the doctor and had a CAT scan, x-ray and MRI. I also had chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, Reiki, hot stone therapy and remedial sports massage over a period of a year-and-a-half. After all these different therapies I was still in chronic pain, which affected my whole body, my mood and everything.

I wouldn’t even say that I got short-term relief from the other therapies, at least not more than a couple of days, so I was skeptical and naturally thought, “why would Bowen work?” I had come to the conclusion that I was just going to have deal with this for the rest of my life.

After the first Bowen session I had instantaneous relief from my back pain. After the second or third session I went on holidays for about two weeks. Normally when I go on holiday and get out of my routine my back becomes a lot worse (I do a combination of things to manage my back - aqua aerobics, yoga, orthotics and sleeping on a supported mattress). When I got back I was surprised that I'd had no issues while I was away – I had been completely out of my routine. I thought 'this Bowen actually works.'

My back can be good now for months. I'm secure in the knowledge that Bowen will fix me, even when I have to do things that I know will aggravate it.

nikki davies, eastwood

About your Bowen Therapist

Joshua Rasco, Bowen & Craniosacral Therapist, Meditation Teacher

I first tried Bowen Therapy in 2000 for a painful shoulder I was experiencing. My shoulder improved rapidly with Bowen and I was especially amazed at the profound relaxation and sense of well-being I felt after each session.

This inspired me to learn Bowen, which I've been practising now since 2005. I am also the former President of the Bowen Association of Australia and a former Bowtech Bowen Instructor.

Bowen Association of Australia
Joshua Rasco, Bowen & Craniosacral Therapist, Meditation Teacher

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