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What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition where Pain occurs due to the impingement or irritation of the Sciatic Nerve Root(s). The nerve travels from the Spinal Cord at Levels L4-S1. Symptoms can extend to toes from the lower back and in to the thigh. It usually affects one side of the body, limited to the lower body. Symptoms will vary depending on where the Sciatic Nerve is affected.

Some might find the pain sever and, in some cases, disabling whereas in others might be infrequent and irritating (this has the potential to become worse).

Symptoms of Sciatica

  • Pain along the innervation of the Sciatic Nerve
  • Pain that becomes worse with sitting
  • Hip Pain
  • Burning or Pins and Needles down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, finding difficult to move the leg
  • A shooting pain that makes standing up difficult

Other Causes

  • Degenerative Disc Diseases (causing breakdown of the Discs- which are the cushions for the vertebrae for the Joints)
  • Pregnancy
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (narrowing of the opening of the spinal canal in the Lumbar region)
  • Muscle Spasms in the muscles surrounding the nerve
  • Spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra slips forwards over another one) Risk Factors
  • Jobs that may require lots of heavy lifting
  • Being Overweight
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Diabetes
  • Aging (causes changes in the spine e.g. herniated discs or bone growth)
  • Constant wearing of high heels
  • Sleeping on an inappropriate mattress (too hard or too soft)
  • Smoking

Sciatica Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapy is effective for treating sciatica and low back pain. Treatment is tailored to the client presentation as sciatica may present in multiple ways. Your Physiotherapist will tailor a program for you including stretches for tight muscles that may be accounting for some impingement and strengthening the appropriate muscles to help counteract to more permanent changes.

Treatment may also include strapping to help decrease the inflammation and support the back. Your Physiotherapist may prescribe a Sacro Lumbar Support for sustained activities or work (if symptoms occur mostly at work). Depending on the severity of the presentation it may take up to 6 months or more.

If you are concerned about sciatica, book an appointment with one of our experienced physios who can assess and treat your pain.