What is sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, originating in the lower back and running down the buttocks and the entire length of the leg to the foot.

‘Sciatica’ is the term commonly used for pain travelling down the back of the leg and foot, either with or without pins and needles. Sciatica itself is not actually a condition but a sign that the sciatic nerve is being compressed or irritated.

There are varying degrees of sciatica which can range from mild pain running down the back of the leg to pins and needles, numbness and weakness which are usually accompanied by pain in the lower back. This is a relatively common problem that osteopaths see a lot and can be caused by quite a few conditions;

  • Disc herniation or injury.
  • Nerve root irritation.
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Piriformis syndrome.
  • Sponydlolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis.

Sciatica can be a debilitating symptom but there are some ways of relieving it at home;

  • Using a tennis ball: place a tennis ball under you buttocks and or thigh and slowly move around to target tight and sore muscle groups.
  • Ice and heat: ice and heat are good natural remedies for sciatica and can be used in combination. Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory and heat will help reduce muscle tightness. To use ice, it is best to wrap it in a tea towel or flannel, do apply it directly to the skin, and once on you can leave it for around 10 minutes. To use heat, why not try using a hot water bottle or a wheat bag that can be heated up in the microwave.
  • Stay active: although the sofa may seem very inviting it is best to keep active and mobile. If seated or lying down try getting up every 30 minutes for a 10 minute walk around and gentle stretch to keep structures in your lower back mobile and to prevent muscles from tightening up.

If you find you are suffering from any sciatic type symptoms why not book an appointment with us to see if we can get to the bottom of your problem.  Your osteopath will try to find the root of the issue and provide you with the best treatment. They will also be able to offer you some exercises and gentle stretches that you can use to combat your pain at home.



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