What Is Sciatica and How Do You Treat It?
Are you wondering what sciatica is and how you can treat it? If so, it is important to first learn what is causing your pain, so you can treat it in the most effective way possible. Sciatica refers to a condition, where you feel pain along the length of your sciatic nerve. Since this is both the largest and longest nerve in your entire body (1), when it is sending out pain signals, you’re likely to be highly uncomfortable.
Where It Travels.
Your sciatic nerve starts in the lower portion of your spinal column, traveling through your hip and backside regions, to end up in your lower leg. When your sciatic nerve reaches your knee, it actually branches off into two sections (2). Pain can move through any portion of the sciatic nerve, and different body positions may exacerbate this condition.
Why Does It Happen?
Your spinal column houses many nerves, which can become pinched if the vertebrae or discs move out of place and exert pressure upon them. A variety of issues can cause this to happen, including a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome or a dislocated vertebra (3).
What Does It Feel Like?
Physiotherapists describe the sensation from a pinched sciatic nerve as numbness, and even a burning or shooting pain. Many times, the pinch of your sciatic nerve is in your lower back, yet you may feel much more pain in one side of your buttocks or your leg. You may notice weakness in the affected area and the pain may be worse when you perform activities or motions that place more pressure on your sciatic nerve, like squatting down, bending or even coughing (4).
How To Treat It.
The good news is, most cases of sciatica resolve in a few weeks time, using standard treatment options. As Physio’s Sciatica is an injury that we are use to treating in our Sydney clinic.
An initial step may include over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, which are an excellent first step – regardless of the underlying cause of your sciatica. These can help to relieve the inflammation that is likely present, which may lessen the pressure being exerted upon your sciatic nerve.
The next step is to determine the reason that you’re experiencing sciatic pain, as different causes have different recommended treatments. For example, if a dislocated vertebra is pinching your sciatic nerve, then a chiropractic adjustment could solve the issue. In contrast, if your piriformis muscle has been injured, focused stretching and strengthening exercises with a physiotherapist could resolve your pain (5).
Other options include the use of electrical stimulation, which can be helpful to strengthen the appropriate muscles needed for proper spine stability. Some people report acupuncture as being a helpful treatment, and chiropractic or osteopathic treatments are extremely helpful in some cases.
If OTC medications, stretching, strengthening exercises, chiropractic or osteopathic adjustments don’t help, there are some stronger options. You can choose to have pain medication injected directly into your spine (6), which is sometimes referred to as a nerve block. If your sciatica hasn’t resolved within six weeks and causes severe pain, surgery may be called for in your case, which could remove the source of the pressure upon the nerve (7).
If you think you or a loved one is suffering from Sciatica give Sydney clinic a call and make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists.