What exactly is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a pain that affects the lower back, buttocks, the back of the legs, feet and toes. Symptoms include a stabbing, burning or shooting pain. Sciatica is a symptom rather than a condition, this is because it’s caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. You may experience some pins and needles down the back of the leg or feet along with numbness and muscle weakness.The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back and runs through the bottom and down the leg. Your pain can range in severity and can be aggravated by sitting for long periods of time.

Why do we get Sciatica?

Sciatica is quite common. The reason the nerve becomes irritated may be due to a number of reasons which are all completely normal and are seen very commonly.

  • A previously injured disc may be one of these reasons, the disc bulge may not be causing you the problem but may be irritating the nearby nerve root causing the sciatic symptoms. As we get older  we may be experiencing some disc degeneration within the spine which also may cause some compression onto the sciatic nerve.
  • It also may be the fact that you are very active and the muscles of the lower back have been overworked and gone into protective spasm which can also irritate the sciatic nerve.
  • This may have developed over time or suddenly due to trauma or physical injury.

Importance of Finding the True Cause

It’s really important that we find the true cause of why you are experiencing sciatica, this is because where the pain is may not always be the true cause of the problem.

We see many cases in clinic where people complain of pain in the lower back, some numbness in the calf/ foot and the legs feeling heavy and stiff. When we assess these patients we often find that the muscles around the hips and legs are not doing their job very efficiently. The lower back muscles then have to work extra hard.

When we assess these patients we often find that the muscles around the hips and legs are not doing their job very efficiently. The lower back muscles then have to work extra hard.

This can cause a lot of irritation on the sciatic nerve which is why people feel the numbness in the lower leg.

Making sure that the muscles are all working together and equally is very important when getting our patients out of pain and making sure the pain does not return.

If the symptoms do not improve within 7 – 10 days, visiting a physio would be very beneficial.

Tips for Sciatic Pain Relief

There are many ways to relieve pressure off the sciatic nerve, through some simple exercises.

My advice if you are complaining of Sciatica Type Symptoms would be:

  •  Make sure you don’t sit down for too long and to keep moving.
  • Gentle exercises daily for example, walking and swimming.
  • When sleeping try and find a comfortable position, this may be laying on your side.

Here are some exercises which can alleviate your sciatic symptoms.

Knees to chest – lying on your back bring both knees towards your chest and give them a hug. 3 x 15 seconds.
Single knee to chest – lying on your back, bring one knee towards your chest and give it a hug. With the other leg still on the ground reach your leg further along the floor, reaching toes away from you. 3 x 15 seconds.
Sciatica mobilisation stretch – lying on your back, bring one knee towards the chest, holding the back of your upper leg with both hands. Slowly straighten the knees towards the ceiling. 3x15secs.
Glute stretch – lying on your back, both knees bent. Lift one knee up to 90deg, place the ankle on the opposite thigh. If you feel a stretch in the glute then hold it there. If not lift the opposite foot off the floor until you do. 3 x 15 secs.

Get in touch today to Relieve your Sciatic Pain