What is Sciatica?

Sciatica affects many people and can be a common symptom associated with lower back pain. Sciatic pain is pain radiating along the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a major nerve which supplies our lower limbs with sensory and motor functions. Therefore, sciatic pain can radiate down one or both legs. As this pain is neural by nature, this can be a sharp, dull or burning pain.

90% of cases of sciatica are caused by a herniated disc with an associated nerve root compression. Less likely, however possible, causes include lumbar stenosis or a tumor. Irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve along the anatomical pathway can cause these symptoms too. The nerve can commonly get stuck under the piriformis muscle and in between hamstring heads.

How is this diagnosed?

This is usually diagnosed by allied health practitioners and doctors. The diagnosis comes from a subjective and physical examination by either of these health practitioners. Usually, this condition doesn’t require any imaging. It is very commonly caused by a herniated disc. However, if any red flags are present then imaging will be undertaken. These red flags include loss of sensation around the saddle area, any issues with bladder or bowel, loss of sensation and muscle power in the legs. If these are present usually either a CT scan or MRI is performed.

What does this all mean?

Acute sciatic responds very well to treatment. Usually, within the first two weeks, most pain and disability can resolve. However, this injury can take up to 6-8weeks to settle down due to the herniated disc.

What can I do?

The recommendation is to see a physiotherapist as they will start you on the right track. Staying active is the best way to help manage sciatica. Physiotherapists will typically use multiple treatment options such as manual therapy, soft tissue massage, education and a tailored exercise program to help treat sciatica. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain medication to help with symptoms. Both these combined will help you to get back on track!

Our physiotherapists at Trilogy are trained in treating patients with Sciatica symptoms. If you would like to book in with one of our therapists click here!

Read more….

To learn more about lower back pain, check out our blog HERE
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Koes, B. W., van Tulder, M. W., & Peul, W. C. (2007). Diagnosis and treatment of sciatica. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 334(7607), 1313–1317. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39223.428495.BE

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