Let’s face it – your life isn’t much fun when simple things like getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, or even coughing and sneezing become a painful experience.
Equally, your inability to focus at work, sleep comfortably at night and live an active life is also affecting the lives of the ones you love. The truth is sciatica is an incredibly painful and debilitating condition that can affect all areas of your life and others!
For this reason doesn’t it make sense you truly understand what sciatica is, your symptoms and causes and furthermore seek out the right appropriate treatment and advice.
So let’s take a closer look at exactly sciatica is …
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It is made up of 5 nerve roots that leave the spinal column through small tunnels in the lumbar spine. These nerve roots join together in the pelvis to form the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs through the buttock, down the back of the leg to supply the muscles and joints of the thigh, knee, calf, ankle, foot and toes.
Someone suffering with sciatica will probably say that they experience pain coming from their low back, running into their buttock and down into their leg, possibly as far as their toes.
Symptoms of sciatica
Sciatic pain can vary widely, from mild, infrequent and irritating to severe, constant and debilitating. It usually affects one leg and the leg pain is usually more severe than any accompanying low back pain.
You may have one or a combination of the following:
- Pain in one side of the buttock or leg
- Nerve sensations such as aching pain, shooting pains down the leg (making it difficult to stand up), pins and needles or numbness
- Muscular weakness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- Pain that is worse when sitting or standing
If the pain follows a violent injury such as a traffic accident, you have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder or you experience sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg numbness or muscle weakness in your leg you need to seek immediate medical treatment.
Causes of sciatica
There are many different causes of sciatica, the most common ones are:
- Slipped (herniated) lumbar disc – a herniated disc occurs when the soft inner core of the disc (nucleus pulposus) leaks out, or herniates through the fibrous outer core (annulus) and irritates the neighbouring nerve root. A herniated disc is sometimes referred to as a slipped disc, ruptured disc, bulging disc, protruding disc or a pinched nerve.
- Degenerative disc disease – Disc degeneration is a natural process that occurs with aging. In some people the degenerated discs (where inflammatory proteins from inside the disc become exposed) can irritate a nerve root and cause sciatica.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the nerve passages in the spine. It is related to natural aging and is relatively common in adults over the age of 60.
- Piriformis syndrome – piriformis is one of the muscles that make up your buttocks. The sciatic nerve runs next to the muscle so can get irritated or pinched if the muscle is tight and/or not working correctly
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction – the sacroiliac joints are where the sacrum bone and iliac blades meet at the back of your pelvis. The L5 nerve lies on top of this joint and can therefore be irritated if the joint is not working correctly
- Muscle strain and inflammation – tight muscles and inflammation to the surrounding soft tissues due to minor injury can cause irritation and pressure onto the various nerve roots as well as the sciatic nerve.
- Pregnancy – sciatica can occur during pregnancy due to the altered mechanics of the pelvis and lower back and weight gain as the baby grows and develops as well as hormonal changes.
Aggravating factors include being overweight, not exercising regularly and wearing high heels.
How will osteopathy help?
As you can see there can be many different things causing your sciatica. At the Shefford Osteopathic Clinic we are trained to identify which is the most likely cause in your case and to then give appropriate treatment and advice.
We will review your symptoms and medical history and conduct a physical examination of your body. It is our experience that most sciatic symptoms are caused by a combination of pressure and inflammation of the nerve root. Treatment of the related joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles is undertaken using a series of hands-on manual techniques tailored to each case.
As well as getting the body moving correctly we will also offer advice on exercises to help you increase the flexibility and strength of your muscles that help support your back and how to make sure that your posture is correct when sitting and standing.
You may wish to take pain relieving or anti-inflammatory drugs for which you will need to see you GP. We may advise that you have further investigations such as an MRI.
So how long will I take to get better? This depends on what the cause is and you as the individual – your underlying health, lifestyle, work etc. and how this is affecting your body. Your practitioner will be able to give you a better idea once they have assessed you.
What to do now ……
If you’ve come to this website looking for help, then don’t in silence suffer any longer.
Contact us immediately on 01462 811006 for a consultation and let’s assess your condition.
At the assessment, we’ll take some details from you and build your case history. We’ll discuss why you’ve come to see us and where you have any aches and pains. Then we’ll examine you with the aim of giving you the appropriate treatment.
This will take a little while to complete, but it’s a necessary part of the ethical guidelines we work to. The guidelines are there to make sure everything is done professionally and to a high standard of patient care. I’m sure you agree that’s a good thing!
If you have any questions about what we do and how we do it, call us on 01462 811006 or use the contact form below – and we’ll be happy to help.