Image depicting the main causes of sciatica

Sciatica – Everyone’s heard of it, but what is it?

What is Sciatica?

Is sciatica a symptom or a diagnosis? A quick google search of any medical symptom will most likely give you more questions than answers, especially regarding radiating pain down the leg – also known as sciatica. So let’s answer Google’s most frequently asked questions about it using medical journals and our extensive knowledge of anatomy & physiology.

 

What causes Sciatica?

 

The sciatic nerve is formed from a group of nerves coming from the spinal cord through the low back and tailbone (sacrum). Its major role is to give motor control and sensation to the soft tissues on the back of the leg (eg. glutes, hamstrings, calves).

Sciatica, which is essentially pain or other neurological symptoms such as:

  • pins and needles
  • numbness
  • burning
  • weakness

These symptoms are usually felt in the buttock and/or referred down the back of the leg to as far as the feet and toes and results from an irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

 

How does the Sciatic nerve get irritated or compressed?

 

The sciatic nerve is interesting as the pathway it takes through the leg can vary. In some people, it will pass between muscles, but in others it can pass through the piriformis muscle in the buttock. Increased muscle tension from the piriformis alone can then compress the sciatic nerve.

Injury or disease to other structures along the nerve pathway can cause similar irritation including the:

  • spinal cord
  • lumbar discs
  • joints between lumbar vertebrae

Such as arthritis, degeneration or inflammation.

What is the best treatment for Sciatica?

 

Appropriate treatment will mostly depend on what is compressing or irritating the sciatic nerve. In a majority of cases, the pain can be effectively treated with manual therapy:

  • Osteopathy
  • Myotherapy
  • Dry needling

Anti-inflammatory medications or topical creams can provide some pain relief. In some severe cases, surgical decompression may be necessary as a last resort.

 

 

Pain going down your legs?

Schedule an appointment with one of our lovely Osteopaths to get an assessment and advice to start feeling better today! Book online or contact the clinic on 95703388.

 

References:

Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1895638/

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