Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and stretches from the nerve roots emerging from the spinal cord in the back travelling into the buttock then into the thigh, it then divides into branches that extend down into the leg. A little bit like an electrical cable travelling from the mains supply in the garage and extending into the hall, lounge and kitchen. So sciatica refers to pain felt in the distribution of the nerve; this is generally caused by some form of irritation on the nerve which most commonly takes place at the nerve roots.

Sciatica can be extremely debilitating and frustrating as it can profoundly affect our ability to move and get on with life for a period of time.

 

What's the cause?

 

The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging or herniated disc which causes compression and irritation at the point of compression which results in inflammation and perception of discomfort in the leg, this is often called referred pain. Other causes can include arthritis in the spine, degenerative disc disease and sometimes severe injury to the back.

 

What are the risk factors?

 

Having a sedentary lifestyle in conjunction with a sedentary occupation can lead to stiffening in the joints of the spine and the de-conditioning of the musculoskeletal system. The mobility of the spinal joints and surrounding tissues is integral to the effective distribution of forces throughout the spine as we move against gravity. So in a nut shell some discs and joints will have to take more strain than others. It's really quite simple mechanics. And secondly having a physically demanding role but maintaining poor sustained postures in conjunction with poor lifting technique can lead to the onset of sciatica by placing tissue under prolonged and excessive loads. The message is therefore clear....

 

STOP, THINK and EVALUATE YOUR BEHAVIOUR and LIFESTYLE

 

So keeping conditioned reduces the likelihood excessive strain on the shock absorbers and therefore episodes of pain and loss of function and secondly using your back correctly helps avoid excessive forces.

 

So what does it feel like?

 

Some people describe a heavy cramping feeling in the buttock, thigh and or leg which may be accompanied by pins and needles, burning or numbness in the leg. If pain is severe walking can be difficult very often with a limp. In some instances sitting can provoke symptoms so many people find changing positions continually the best way to manage symptoms. What can I expect? The good news is that the overwhelmingly number of cases of sciatica recovery without the need for surgery. The recovery period can vary from a few weeks to a few months with a small percentage of cases taking up to a year. The key to a quick recovery is to create an environment for the body to help itself. All the evidence suggests that providing we control the symptoms, keep mobile and avoid the offending postures and activities the sciatica will invariably get better by itself!!!

So what do we offer to help recovery? Most people want self help advice; this is exactly what we offer. We won't offer you endless sessions of treatment that just go on for months!

 

What we will do is thoroughly examine you and provide a professional opinion as to the best way to manage your specific symptoms, provide symptomatic relief if required, help to improve your spinal mobility and core strength, provide preventative and ergonomics advice and arrange investigations and a referral to a spinal consultant if required.

How we help; below is a list of common treatments and ergonomics services.

 

  • Manipulation

  • Acupuncture/cupping

  • Restorative exercise

  • Core Exercises

  • Soft Tissue Massage

  • Electrotherapy

  • Heat Packs

  • Rehabilitation

  • Strength Exercises

  • Stretching Exercises

  • Supportive Taping & Strapping

  • TENS Machine

  • Yoga

  • Carry out a workstation and or vehicle inspection to identify pain provoking postures.

  • Carry out a home inspection and advice on the interface between you and your furniture for example. whether your mattress is right for you, the suitability of your seating etc

  • Develop a personal conditioning programme using ergonomics principals.