“Sciatica” is a diagnosis that is often given to you by your doctor, which literally means pain involving the sciatic nerve. It will normally start as progressive low back pain or stiffness and then progress to sciatic pain. The pain can be in the buttock, back of the leg and down to the foot or toes. You may just feel a dull ache, or more of a sharp stabbing pain, burning, numbness, tingling and or even weakness of the leg.
If you have a loss of sensation around your saddle / genital area with any changes to your bowel or bladder habits go to A+E to have a anal reflex check and more tests to rule out cauda equina which is much more serious.
Sciatica itself is a fairly non-specific diagnosis as there can be many reasons why the sciatic nerve can become irritated of compressed.
Some of the causes of sciatica are:
• Repetitive sprain causing irritation to the sciatic nerve
• Disc injury (prolapsed disc) compressing the nerve roots which form the sciatic nerve
• Piriformis syndrome – tightness of the piriformis muscle that compresses the nerve as it passes the buttock.
• Sacroiliac joint problems causing nerve irritation
• Lumbar facet sprains causing nerve irritation
It maybe from too much sitting, a lifting injury, or a sports injury. Generally speaking it will be more common in those who are sedentary and sit either at work or at home for long periods and have ignored the signs of spinal stiffness and pain, and then have done some more vigorous activity such as heavy lifting or a specific sport such as golf which brought the sciatic pain on.
Patients will normally say on their initial visit “I did not do anything specific”. However accumulative load or trauma to the spine over a long period of time causes dysfunction to the spine and one innocuous movement such as a golf swing or lifting a plant pot can tip the scales and cause an injury. It is normally the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camels back’ type scenario.
Therefore it is important to get properly assessed. This is important to rule out a lumbar disc hernitation (slipped disc) which can take 12-18 months to properly heal and is a much longer recovery, you also may aggravate a disc with certain exercises so please get assessed by a professional first.
• True sciatica pain generally runs past the knee.
• It is good to try and stay as mobile as you can.
• Do not put any heat on the area, stick to cold packs as it is an inflammatory condition.
*NICE the clinical guidelines for low back pain recommends manual therapy (spinal manipulation, mobilisation or soft tissue techniques such as massage) for managing low back pain alongside doing exercises.
Treatment for Sciatica
Chiropractors specialise in manual therapy- manipulative and soft tissue techniques which will speed up your healing time dramatically. Chiropractors have 5 years undergraduate training in spinal health conditions and our regulated by the General Chiropractic Council. Going to a spinal specialist such as Freddie Powell and the team will allow you to get to the root cause of your pain and not just treat the symptoms with painkillers.
At the clinic we have over 55 years of experience successfully treating sciatica using these techniques.
Treatment will consist of manual therapy such as manipulation or mobilisation to release the restrictions in your low back to take pressure or irritation away from the sciatic nerve. Massage and soft tissue techniques will aid the healing process as well which are performed.
Once you are more mobile we will then prescribe you a course of exercises to do at home for 4 weeks to prevent another flare up of sciatica.
Many patients are unable to do many exercises during a nasty flare up of sciatica so having treatment first allows you to feel more comfortable to get on and off the floor to do the movements required.
Your Chiropractor will give you tailor made exercises specific for your condition and diagnosis as every case of sciatica is different depending on what the cause is.
• Try to avoid carrying out exercises without supervision or doing ones you find on the internet as you might aggravate your complaint especially if it is a disc injury.
This is why we always recommend having one of our team examine you first to tell you exactly what the issue is.
THE SYKES VERWEY CENTRE IS THE LEADING CHIROPRACTIC AND SPORTS INJURY CLINIC IN DEVON.
Why not get in touch and see how we can help you.