What is sciatica?

You have pain running from your low back or buttock down into your hamstring, calf and foot.

What is the main cause of sciatica?

There are 2 forms of sciatica-both of which cause considerable pain.

True sciatica- where the large nerve running from the spine and down the leg (The sciatic nerve) is irritated at some point along its path causing pain.

The nerve is often irritated up at the spine by an inflamed disc or facet joint.

Pseudo Sciatica- where there is a muscular (somatic) referral from the muscles of the low back, pelvic girdle or upper leg referring pain.

A Physiotherapist will be able to accurately assess what the underlying cause of the referred pain is.

How do I know if i’m having sciatic nerve pain?

Physiotherapists are experts at assessing the human body. By obtaining a detailed history and thorough physical examination we can accurately assess the true cause of the pain. Physiotherapists can also recommend if x-rays or other scans are indicated.

How do I relieve sciatic nerve pain?

Staying cautiously active is important. Bed rest or complete rest is associated with poor long-term outcomes and recovery. Simple over the counter pain medication will help keep the pain in check to achieve this.

Simple spinal range of motion exercises.

Early engagement with active treatment.

Having a positive mindset and understanding that you will recover will help immensely.

What are the Sciatica treatment options?

In very rare cases the pain will be due to an extremely inflamed nerve root, we call this radiculopathy. Radiculopathy often responds to relative rest, medication and an active Physiotherapy program. A very small number of people with this condition may require injections or surgery.

In all other cases the early intervention of a Physiotherapist with some local treatment and specific exercise therapies will decrease the pain and improve function very quickly. Physiotherapists can guide their patients in the safe return to sport and/or work.

Does sciatica go away on it’s own?

No one has a crystal ball, so we never say never. However, studies have shown that having a strong core and pelvic stabilisers and participating in regular exercise and/or sports significantly decreases the chances of a recurrence. A physiotherapist is well placed to educate and guide you on your return to exercise.

By Peakhurst Physio

Caring for the whole person, not just the injury

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