What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain and other symptoms that originate in the lower back or pelvis but travel down the leg due to a neurological problem.
What are the common symptoms of sciatica?
-Pain, often described as burning, sharp or shooting pain which commonly arises from the lower back or hip and usually travels down the leg towards the foot.
-Reduced sensation or numbness in the buttock, leg or foot.
-Pins and needles in the buttock, leg or foot
-Weakness in the leg or foot or issues with walking
The symptoms may be constant or they may come and go. The symptoms are generally felt on one side of the buttock, leg or foot but in rare cases symptoms will appear on both sides.
What Causes Sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is compression of the nerve roots L4-S3 which exit the spine to form the sciatic nerve. This can be caused by a herniated disc commonly referred to as a ‘bulging’ or ‘slipped’ disc.
Other common causes of sciatica include spondylosis (degenerative changes in the spine) or by entrapment of the sciatic nerve by a muscle in the buttock.
What Are The Risk Factors?
Risk factors of sciatica include:
-A history of osteoarthritis
-A history of repetitive heavy lifting, twisting, bending or prolonged sitting
-A history of traumatic injury such as a motor vehicle accident
What Are The Common Treatments Of Sciatica?
The best treatments of sciatica depend upon the underlying cause of the issue. Common treatments include:
-Specific exercises prescribed by a Physiotherapist or medical professional that work to take pressure off the nerves causing the pain
-Education regarding recovery and pain management and lifestyle change
-Manual therapy such as massage, joint mobilisation and dry needling
-In rare cases, surgery
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Sciatica?
If you think you have sciatica you should consult a health practitioner who is able to assess your condition, identify the underlying cause of the symptoms and provide the appropriate treatments, exercise and education.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
-weakness in the legs,
-numbness in the saddle area (between the legs)
-issues with bladder or bowel function.
You should seek immediate attention from a health practitioner to avoid long term complications as these symptoms may indicate a more severe neurological issue.
This blog was written by John Rossi from the Christies Beach Physio practice.