What is Sciatica?

Diagram of Sciatica

Have you ever had pain, numbness or tingling in the back, running down your leg or even into your foot? That’s referred to as sciatica pain. Sciatica is a symptom that occurs when there is irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. It is a long nerve running from the lower back, down the buttock, through the back of the leg and into the foot.

In rare instances, sciatic symptoms can be associated with progressive leg weakness or bowel/bladder dysfunction and could be caused by another underlying condition, requiring medical/surgical intervention. However most sciatic pain can be relieved through appropriate treatment.

There are many causes of sciatica, all resulting in irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. Some include:

  • Herniated disc – a disc is the cushioning between each vertebrae in the spine. When a disc bulges or breaks open, it can cause sciatica pain.
  • Spinal stenosis – narrowing of the spine which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve as it exits the lumbar/sacral spine.
  • Inflammation – from arthritis, joint/muscle sprains or systemic inflammation.
  • Piriformis syndrome – the sciatic nerve lies close to this muscle in the buttock, therefore when it is tight/inflamed, it puts pressure on the nerve.
  • Pregnancy – increased fluid retention and a shift in the body’s centre of gravity occurs, resulting in increased pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica treatment options include:

  • Chiropractic/physiotherapy
  • Application of ice
  • Massage therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Pain medication
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery – when there are serious neurological signs or conservative treatment is ineffective

The type of treatments for sciatica is dependent on the it’s cause, however they all have the same goal of reducing compression/irritation on the nerve.

Sciatica is not something you should just ‘put up with’ as there is an array of treatments available. It is important to have an accurate diagnosis and understand the cause before it gets severe. For sciatica treatment in Sydney, speak to our practitioners at Spinal and Sports Care for a professional opinion – call us on 9683 1110.