What we Treat / Sciatica
Sciatica is a specific pain that originates from the sciatic nerves which each run from one side of the pelvis through the hip and buttocks and down the leg. The Sciatic nerve forms what is effectively an electrical cable to and from the brain. Sciatica is a condition where pain, weakness or altered sensation can be experienced in the buttock, hamstring, calf or foot but stem from the spine, via the Sciatic nerve.
The major cause of Sciatica is a Prolapsed Inter Vertebral Disc (more commonly known as a 'slipped disc') at the bottom of the back but can also be due to a swollen structure (muscle or ligament) lying on the nerve. Sciatica can also occur due to trauma from a car accident, fall or blow to the spine. If the damaged disk is in the lower part of your back, you may also experience numbness, tingling or weakness in your buttock, leg or foot.
Sciatica may also be triggered by very small, normal movements like bending over to one side at a bad angle to pick something up, as well from suffering a trauma like falling off a ladder and landing on your back. What happens in all cases is that the sciatic nerve is compressed and consequentially causes you pain. Sciatica can also be caused by a stretch type injury as well as a gradual onset for no apparent reason.
The pain that accompanies sciatica can range from mild to debilitating. Normal symptoms include a sensation of pain radiating from your lower back down the leg. Weakness, numbness or tingling can be experienced and begins in the lower spine and radiates down through the hips and buttocks and down the leg and/or foot. Although the cause of Sciatica lies in the spine, not all sufferers will experience back pain and symptoms can be variable. The problem can manifest as back pain with leg pain, or leg pain only.
Physiotherapy is very effective in the treatment of sciatica. Treatment by our Physios can relieve nerve root compression caused by fibrous scar tissue following a disc prolapse and can treat conditions related to compression of the sciatic nerve by other structures. Our Physios also aim to prevent further episodes of sciatic pain through teaching correct postural techniques, and exercises to correct any muscle imbalance in the spine.
What to do before you come in?
Sciatica often responds well to simple changes to your daily routines and self-care measure, so avoiding what caused the pain in the first place is important. While rest is important in the short-term, prolonged rest can make your symptoms worse. You'll heal more quickly if you continue with your usual activities, but avoid what may have triggered the pain in the first place. In addition to resuming usual activities, use cold packs for 20 minutes every hour to reduce any inflammation and temporarily relieve pain. If the pain still continues after a number of days, alternate warm and cold packs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can both be helpful for sciatica. However, exercise, stretching, massage and other nondrug treatments can often provide the same benefits as medication.
Our Chartered Physiotherapists will aim to prevent further episodes of sciatic pain through teaching correct postural techniques, and exercises to correct any muscle imbalance in the spine, and curb any effects for the future on your body.