SCIATICA

The sciatic nerve  runs from the lower spine, through the buttock, into the hamstring and into the lower leg. As this nerve extends through the majority of the lower body (it is the longest nerve in the ENTIRE body), the areas of which symptoms are experienced when it becomes irritated or damaged include: lower back, buttock, hamstring, calf and into the foot.

 

This condition is dubbed ‘sciatica’.

 

HOW DOES SCIATICA DEVELOP?

  • When the nerve is compressed or ‘pinched’ by a bulging disc.

  • A mechanical trauma/direct blow is sustained to the area, such as falling onto your back or hip, resulting in sciatic nerve irritation.

  • Can also be developed through repetitive strain such as poor postures/too much sitting, resulting in tightening of the back & hip musculature. This can slowly compress the sciatic nerve and present as a chronic (long standing) issue. 

  • Piriformis syndrome: this is where your ‘butt’ muscle, which is either weak or overused, results in muscular tightness and spasm therefore compressing the nerve. 

 

 

SYMPTOMS OF SCIATICA

  • Dull or diffuse aching: this typically means the exact area of pain is hard to pinpoint, likely meaning the whole area is affected or hypersensitive. 

  • Pulling sensation down the back of the leg when walking, sitting or straightening the leg. 

  • Sharp specific pain

  • Burning or shooting pain into the peripheral (lower) limbs

  • Loss of neural power: this may be experienced in more severe cases of sciatica. Specifically, a foot drop syndrome (inability to control the foot whilst walking), loss of calf and/or hamstring strength can be experienced. 

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Physical Therapist

HOW IS IT TREATED

Typically, rest from activities that irritate the sciatic nerve is recommended first and foremost. From here, gentle stretching will help to ‘unload’ or decompress areas which have been affected by sciatica

For example, typically the glute muscle can be an area of pain, so stretching this area may help to alleviate the symptoms experienced. 

Once pain is settled, or at a more manageable level, introducing strength & stability exercises to help rehabilitate the source of the issue is recommended. This includes a weak core strength, causing instability of the spinal joints and nerves (resulting in compression of the nerve). Secondly, an overused or weak glute muscle which places more pressure onto the nerve (the muscle tightens around the nerve and compresses it).

 

90% of people asymptomatic in 6 weeks with rest & professional treatment, such as Physiotherapy.

HOW YOU CAN HELP PREVENT SCIATICA

  • Practice good posture when standing or sitting throughout the work day.
    Avoid postures which make the back and hips feel tight, pinching or painful. 

  • MOVE & exercise your body frequently: whether this is walking, running, swimming or playing sport. Keeping the body mobile is a must. 

  • Invest in your mattress and pillow – we spend 1/3rd of our day sleeping, so this can help the health of your back, spine and hips when in a static sleeping position. 

  • Limit wearing high heeled shoes: this can excessively arch the lower back, placing more pressure onto the nerves and muscles in the lower back & hip region.

Infinite Health physiotherapists can help provide relief with your sciatica. Don't put up with this problem for any longer than you have to. For expert help and effective treatment book an appointment at one of our clinics or check out our online services!