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:
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.