Sciatica is a term that describes pain caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. Sciatic pain is typically short-lived and goes away on its own within a few weeks. A common cause of sciatica is a “slipped” or herniated disc in your lower back. The symptoms of a “slipped” disc include shooting pain down one leg and numbness and weakness in the other leg. Sciatica usually starts with lower back pain that radiates through the buttock, thigh, calf, and foot.
What exactly is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a common term for pain that affects the sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower back and goes down one or both legs. Herniated discs in the lumbar spine (lower back) are the most common cause of this. However, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, and arthritis can also play a role.
As far as pain goes, sciatica isn’t dangerous—but it is extremely uncomfortable! The symptoms can include radiating lower back pain and hip pain that may extend down through one leg into your foot or toes. In some cases, you may also experience numbness or weakness in your leg or foot.
Symptoms Of Sciatica
Sciatica is a common disorder that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back and leg.
The most common symptom of sciatica is pain that runs through the buttock down one or both legs. The pain may be mild to severe and may change in intensity.
Other symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling in the buttocks or legs
- Weakness in one or both legs
- A sensation of pins and needles (prickling) in one or all four limbs
- Pain in your lower back when you touch it lightly with your fingers
- Pain when coughing or sneezing
- Pain when you sit or stand from a chair or sofa
Causes of Sciatica
Several causes can lead to sciatica, including:
- Disc herniation. This occurs when the soft center of a disc pushes out through its outer layer. The lower back area may feel painful and stiff when this happens.
- Spinal stenosis. This is caused by the vertebrae (bones in your spine) becoming narrower than usual and putting pressure on the spinal cord. It can affect one or both legs, causing pain, numbness, or weakness.
- Spondylolisthesis. This occurs when a vertebra slides forward and irritates the nerves between the vertebrae. It usually affects people aged 60 years or older with osteoarthritis or an injury to their lower back region. In some cases, you may be born with it if there was damage during birth or childhood trauma, such as falling off a bike.
Risk Factors of Sciatica
- Age: If you’re over 50 and have not been active for several years, the risk of sciatica increases.
- Family history: If other family members have had back injuries or different types of chronic pain, you are more likely to get sciatica.
- Heavy lifting: If you lift heavy objects frequently, it can strain your back and cause sciatica.
- Injury to the lower back: If you suffer from an injury to the lower back, such as a fall or car accident, there is a chance that it will cause sciatica.
- Physical activity: When you exercise too much or participate in an extreme sport like ultra-running, skiing, or snowboarding, your body can become strained and cause sciatica.
How do osteopaths diagnose Sciatica?
When diagnosing sciatica, osteopaths perform a thorough physical examination to determine the cause of your pain. They will look for signs of inflammation in your lower back and legs and any other causes of your sciatica.
Osteopaths use techniques to identify the source of the pain and how it affects the patient. These techniques can include checking your posture, muscle tension, range of motion, and strength, and more.
Suppose an osteopath finds that you have sciatica caused by a disc herniation (or other condition). In that case, they may be able to help relieve pain by adjusting your spine or applying deep pressure on specific areas of the body using their hands or elbows.
How can an Osteopath help with Sciatica?
If you’re suffering from sciatica, an osteopath can help to reduce the pain and stiffness associated with it.
Osteopathy is a manual medicine that treats the whole body as a system. It seeks to treat the underlying cause of symptoms rather than just managing them at their surface level. Osteopaths utilise gentle techniques that restore balance and movement in your body so that you can start feeling better naturally without resorting to medication or surgery.
How does this work? Well, one way osteopathy helps with sciatica is by addressing the underlying cause of nerve irritation. Sciatica often occurs when there is compression on the sciatic nerve due to inflammation or injury elsewhere in the body, like your pelvis, back, neck, or legs.
Osteopaths work to correct this compression, which in turn helps to relieve your pain. You’ll have better overall body function thanks to their use of gentle stretching techniques and pressure to improve your flexibility, joints, and overall balance.
Can you treat Sciatica yourself?
If you have sciatica, it is strongly suggested that you seek treatment as soon as possible. These painful symptoms can wreak havoc on your quality of life if left untreated. They can even lead to more severe conditions.
The best way to treat sciatica is by seeing an osteopath who has experience treating this condition. Osteopaths have been proven to be effective at treating back pain, and they also offer other benefits such as improved posture, joint mobility, and better overall health, which makes them ideal for those suffering from sciatica or any back pain
Exercises for Sciatica Pain
Regular exercise can also help strengthen the muscles around your spine and improve your mobility and flexibility. Suppose you have a sedentary lifestyle or have been inactive for a while. In that case, you might want to work with an osteopath before starting any exercise program so they can assess your fitness level and create a safe exercise plan for you.
Osteopathic treatment can help you to get better from sciatica. If you have this condition, it is worth seeing an osteopath and trying their non-invasive treatments. You should be able to feel the benefits very quickly, which will give you more confidence that your condition will resolve without recourse to surgery or medication.