Sciatica is the terms to describe pain caused when the sciatic nerve is pinched or aggravated in some way. The sciatic nerve branches from the lower back through the buttocks and down each leg.
Sciatica most commonly occurs when the nerve becomes compressed either by a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine). Piriformis Syndrome may also contribute to sciatic nerve pain.
The pain associated with sciatica in most cases can be cleared effectively using mediation and /or physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
The pain can be felt running from the lower back, though the buttocks and down the leg into the calf muscle and foot, along the path of the nerve. Sometimes the pain is only felt in one area, for example, the calf. Some may also experience numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness in the leg or foot.
The pain can vary widely from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation or extreme pain, and can feel like an electric shock.
It is not always possible to prevent sciatica, but you can help yourself reduce the risk by:
- Regular exercise to keep the back and core muscles strong to help with posture. Also stretching and maintaining a good tone of the buttocks to reduce compression by the piriformis (Piriformis Syndrome).
- Good posture
- Lifting heavy objects with good lifting technique
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid standing or sitting in one position for long periods.
A treatment plan is developed once the known cause of the pain is identified. To do this we look at the person’s life in full, this can include details of all past accidents, falls, types of seats most used, shoes are worn, stressors or work carried out.
In most cases, sciatica can be cured with non-surgical methods. These include:
- Painkillers and/or anti-inflammatories
- Physical Therapy to relieve any muscular tightness causing the compression
- Re-alignment of the spine and pelvis. At The Hannon Clinic, we use gentle techniques to re-align the spine and pelvis with nor forcing or cracking of the bones involved.
- Exercises – to stretch and strengthen the core and buttock muscles.