What is Sciatica?
The term ‘Sciatica’ is used to describe pain that can travel from the lower back into your buttock, down the back of your leg and can sometimes travel all the way into the foot. ‘Sciatica’ is usually caused by irritation or compression of the Sciatic nerve.
Your Sciatic nerve originates from the lower back and is one of the largest nerves in the body. Your sciatic nerve is made up of several smaller nerves that originate from the spinal cord that come together to form your sciatic nerve. From your lower back it travels deep into your buttock, down the back of your thigh and behind your knee where it branches into nerves that supply part of your lower leg.
The nervous system helps our brain communicate with the body. The sciatic nerve provides sensory and motor innervation to parts of our legs. This is why if you suffer from sciatica you may experience sensation of pain, weakness and periods of pins and needles into the lower leg. Sciatica can be quite debilitating for some individuals and cause constant, intense pain into the lower back or leg.
Osteopaths can assess your symptoms to determine the cause of your sciatica symptoms and create an individualised plan for the treatment and management of your sciatica. Your Osteopath is here to help you through this period of pain and will discuss with you all your options on how to manage and treat your symptoms.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Sciatica may present as the following symptoms:
- Lower back pain
- Shooting pain into your buttock and down the back of your leg
- Burning pain, pins and needles, numbness and tingling in the leg and foot
- A sense of weakness in the leg
- Worse pain with long periods of sitting or standing
Some symptoms of sciatica can indicate a serious medical condition these symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Worsening neurological symptoms this includes weakness, numbness and pins and needles
- Symptoms in both legs
- Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
If these symptoms are present it is advised you seek immediate medical attention.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. This can happen from the following:
- Lumbar disc bulge or prolapse
- Disc degeneration of the lumbar spine
- Muscle spasm in the lower back and gluteal region
- Sprained Lumbar facet joint
- Dysfunction of the sacroiliac joint
- Or other more serious conditions such as tumour or an infection may trigger sciatica symptoms
The Benefits Of Osteopathy Treatment For Sciatica
Once the cause of the sciatica has been determined then a treatment plan can be created. The treatment of Sciatica may include medication, Osteopathic treatment, or for more severe presentations cortisone injections may be required and sometimes surgery.
Osteopathic treatment may be beneficial to treat your sciatica symptoms. Osteopaths will take a holistic approach to treatment and will work towards creating optimal function of the body. Your Osteopath will take a thorough assessment of your spine and lower limbs and will give you personalised advice and treatment options for you.
During the treatment your Osteopath may use a combination of the following manual therapy techniques; Soft tissue massage, joint articulation, joint manipulation/high velocity, low amplitude technique (HVLA), Stretching and muscle energy technique (MET). In conjunction with manual therapy your Osteopath may use taping for support, provide education on your condition and advice on how to manage your pain or provide you a home exercise program to help relieve your sciatica symptoms. Your treatment will be aimed to offload the sciatic nerve, lumbar discs and joints to provide you with relief.
Managing Sciatic Pain at Home
Your osteopath can provide you with advice to help manage your sciatic pain at home. Self management of your sciatica symptoms at home may include:
- Medication – prescribed from your GP
- Use of hot/cold packs
- Education on positioning and activities to avoid to provide pain relief this may include sleeping posture, sitting/standing posture or work ergonomics
- Gentle home stretching and strengthening exercises
Some other great forms of exercise that can help manage your pain can include walking, swimming, Yoga or Pilates.
If you are experiencing lower back pain or sciatica and would like to see one of our Osteopaths to help you best manage your symptoms you can call us on (03) 88996277 or can book in online.