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Do You Struggle with Sciatica?

Sciatic is the term used to describe pain felt along the course of the sciatic nerve. It is the longest nerve in the body. Sciatica symptoms can include: pain, loss of power, pins and needles, or numbness extending into the buttock and/or lower leg.

Pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated disc usually causes sciatica. Otherwise joint inflammation, compression of the nerve from bony arthritic growths or a locked facet joint in the lower spine can commonly cause sciatica. 

While sciatica can be extremely painful and uncomfortable, it is rare that permanent nerve damage (tissue damage) results. Most pain is due to inflammation and will improve within a period of time. Sciatica is a common problem for manual workers, sedentary office workers and is particularly prevalent during pregnancy.

Physio can help! Physiotherapy treatment main objectives are:

  • Reduce pain

  • Restore movement

  • Strengthen weakened muscles

  • Reduce tension around the nerve and surrounding areas

For relief and prevention try the below top tips (Note: This is only advice and naturally if your symptoms are worsening don’t delay treatment - contact one of our physiotherapists today.)

  1. Stretch your gluteals (bottom muscles): tight glutes will increase the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Stretching the gluteal muscles will reduce load on the nerve and ease symptoms. 

  2. Mobilise your thoracic spine. A stiff thoracic spine (middle of your back) also increases loading on the lower back. Keep moving and avoid static postures.

  3. Avoid periods of prolonged sitting. Prolonged sitting can increase the load on the lower back and exiting nerve roots. Try minimising sitting to 15-20min blocks.

  4. Monitor your body weight. If you carry a surplus of weight more than your ideal body weight this increases the irritation of the lower back and could worsen your pain.

  5. Go for a walk. When you walk your back is in an upright or extended position as opposed to a stooped and rounded position where the nerve roost can be more easily irritated.

The sciatic nerve starts as a collection of nerve fibers in the lower spine. These nerve fibers, or roots, exit the spinal canal through a number of openings in the bones at each level of the lower spine called foramen. These lumbar nerve roots then combine to form one large nerve. The sciatic nerve is about as thick as a man's thumb at its largest point.

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