Commonly utilized physiotherapy treatment approaches in the management of Sub-Acute sciatica: A pilot study using the Delphi process

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Andrew Emms
  • Lucie Gosling
  • Sam Papadopoullos
  • Rui Duarte

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Birmingham City University


There is limited evidence for the utilization of physiotherapy in the management of sub-acute sciatica. The aim of this pilot study was to explore the Delphi method to attempt to reach consensus on physiotherapeutic approaches to the management of sub-acute sciatica amongst a panel of clinicians experienced in this field. The panel included senior physiotherapists (n = 10) working within an outpatient setting at a specialized orthopedic trust. Iteration 1 consisted of the open-ended question "List the treatment approaches/techniques/modalities you employ when treating a patient with sub-acute sciatica and provide justifications". Themes reaching 70% consensus progressed to the second iteration which followed up with the question "Please indicate how frequently you would employ the following treatments in the management of sub-acute sciatica" using a 5-point likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). The mean score was calculated for each treatment and those themes achieving a mean of 3.5 or greater progressed to iteration 3 "Please rank in order of preference which of the following treatments you would employ in the treatment of sub-acute sciatica". The response rate at iteration 3 was 60%. This pilot study achieved consensus on five treatment approaches to be employed in the management of sub-acute sciatica. In order of preference these treatments were advice (regarding staying active, staying at work, reassurance, analgesia), advice (time scale of recovery, natural course of sciatica, self-limiting condition, hurt does not equal harm), lumbar joint mobilizations (rotations, PA's, ilial mobs [distractions], transverse glides), direction specific stretches and nerve mobilizations. This pilot study provides preliminary evidence of commonly used treatment approaches for sub acute sciatica amongst physiotherapists.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1450017
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014


  • Delphi, physiotherapy, sciatica

ASJC Scopus subject areas