In short, it depends. I’ll try my best to give you a guide.
Typically, the longer you’ve had a pain for, the longer it tends to take to resolve the underlying problem. So, if this is your first episode and you’ve only had it a week, that should be much quicker to clear up than if you’ve had the pain for many months/years. It also depends whether you’re looking for a quick fix or a longer term solution i.e. prevention of recurrence. For years I’ve used the Cliff of Pain metaphor – you’re in the Sea of Pain and you want me or someone like me to get you back up onto the cliff top – that’s the “relief” phase. But if you want to stop it from happening again, by getting right back from the edge – the prevention bit – then that’ll be a bigger undertaking. For the purposes of this article, let’s stick to the relief phase.
Free versus paid
You may be able to find a lot of useful free information on the web (including here), although it is a bit of a minefield, and most qualified practitioners make a living from this so keep our best stuff back for paying clients. Remember – “you get what you pay for”.
You could pay for a book – there are some really good ones out there, ranging from a few pounds up to £20+. You could pay for online or in-person consultations. The average cost of a first consultation in the UK in 2018 is around £48, with £40 for follow-ups, but tends to be higher in the larger cities. Also, more experienced clinicians tend to charge more (e.g. my fees are £59 and £55).
How many appointments?
If you elect to have a course of treatment, make sure the practitioner is advising you on exercises and how to go about daily activities, especially those that currently aggravate your pain. Clinical guidelines around the world recommend manual therapy combined with physical activity / exercise rather than manual therapy in isolation for lower back pain /sciatica. There is no central database of numbers of appointments for initial resolution of LBP/sciatica. 20 years ago our own average for initial resolution was 3.5 appointments, however it’s a fair bit higher than that now because we specialise in helping people with long-term lower back pain / sciatica problems (the difficult cases) rather than those looking for a quick fix to a first-ever problem.
Also, what does “resolution” mean? It doesn’t really mean cure – no clinician can guarantee that your LBP is not going to recur – on the whole there’s a 60% chance of LBP recurring within a year, hence the importance of the preventative approach (getting right back from the edge).
In conclusion, if you’re going private for relief of your lower back pain /sciatica, you can expect to pay in excess of £100 (unless you’re very lucky) and quite easily several hundred pounds if you’ve had the problem for a long time.
If you’d like to find out whether we can help you or not, feel free to schedule a call with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org