The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It is the nerve that provides sensory and motor function to your lower extremities. If you feel pain throughout your legs, you may have sciatica. Often misdiagnosed, it can lead to a slow or non-responsive treatment. Therefore it’s important to consult a health professional such as a physiotherapist, who specialises in neuro-musculoskeletal and biomechanical aspects of the body.
Sciatica refers to pain radiating where the sciatic nerve runs. The sciatic nerve runs travels from the lower back, passing through the hips and buttocks and down each leg. In most cases, sciatica occurs only on one side of your body. It is not a medical diagnosis but rather a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
- Sciatica is often characterised by one or a combination of symptoms such as:
- Pain in one side of the buttock (may happen in both legs but in rare cases)
- Pain running down the leg and may reach into foot and toes
- Pain worsens when sitting
- Burning or tingling sensation on leg
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg and/or foot
- Difficulty standing up or waking due to sharp pain
The severity of pain may vary. It can be infrequent and irritating or constant and incapacitating. Symptoms usually happen where the pinched nerve is. The symptoms may intensify during sudden movements, like when you sneeze or cough, or when you stand up from sitting. Depending on the underlying cause of sciatica, certain symptoms can be unique.
Causes of Sciatica
Sciatica happens because of the irritation of the nerve root(s) of the lower spine. Other causes include:
- Narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back
- Degeneration of spinal disks
- Slipped disk
- Muscle spasm that occurs in the back or buttocks
- Excessive weight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Wearing high heels
- Sleeping on a very soft mattress
Physiotherapy Care for Sciatica
If your sciatica is only mild, it usually goes away over time. But if self-care measures do not help or if pain persists, becomes severe or becomes worse, it’s time to see a medical professional.
Medications or surgical treatments are not necessary to relieve sciatica. Physiotherapy is among the most effective ways to eliminate sciatica.
Sciatica treatment varies from one person to another as there are many reasons why sciatica may be present. We understand that all patients have unique stories behind their pain. For this reason, our physios design each treatment that will address each of our patient’s specific needs. Therefore, an evaluation is necessary to see which treatment method you will respond best.
Your Perth physiotherapist may recommend stretching or extension exercises to relieve symptoms. These help mobilize sciatic nerve and improve flexibility of your lower back.
Other techniques that may be used to treat sciatica include spinal mobilizations, massage, trigger point therapy, ultrasound and electrical stimulation. Your physiotherapist may also teach you ways to minimise pressure and irritation of your sciatic nerve.
Our sciatica treatment is designed to get you back to enjoying your life free from pain. The sooner you see a Perth physiotherapist, the better results you can achieve.
If you are suffering with sciatica at the moment please do not delay – you can achieve the best results when you address the symptoms early..please contact us to begin your care today!