Physiotherapy for Patients with Sciatica Awaiting Lumbar Micro-Discectomy Surgery: a Nested, Qualitative Study of Patients’ Views and Experiences
AbstractBackground and PurposeSciatica is a common clinical condition that can be extremely painful, disabling and life-changing. Whether conservative or surgical treatment for sciatica secondary to an intervertebral disc prolapse is most effective is still much debated. An important component of conservative treatment is physiotherapy, which aims to promote physical and psychological health for the patient, whilst resorption of the disc takes place. This paper reports a qualitative study of patients' views and experiences of a bespoke physiotherapy intervention for the treatment of sciatica.MethodsA qualitative study nested within a pilot randomized controlled trial of bespoke physiotherapy for the treatment of patients with sciatica awaiting lumbar microdiscectomy surgery. Patients randomized to receive bespoke physiotherapy in the intervention arm of the trial were invited to take part in semi-structured interviews. Twenty-one in-depth, semi-structured interviews took place. All interviews were recorded, fully transcribed and thematically analysed.ResultsMost patients in the sample found the physiotherapy valuable, appreciating the individual nature of the approach, the exercises to reduce pain and discomfort, techniques for improving functional spinal movement, walking and dynamic posture, and manual therapy and cardiovascular exercise. A small number did not find the physiotherapy of benefit. Sixteen patients in the sample went on to proceed with surgery, but most of these found value in having had the physiotherapy first.DiscussionMany patients with sciatica appreciate the value of physiotherapy prior to surgery. Future research should examine patients' experiences of bespoke physiotherapy delivered within primary care. Copyright © 2016 The Authors Physiotherapy Research International published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.