What is sciatica?
You’ve probably heard people saying they have sciatica – and if you’ve had back pain, you might have even wondered if you’ve got it yourself. Sciatica is a commonly used (and occasionally abused) term - but what does it actually mean?
The word sciatica describes a set of symptoms, including lower back, buttock, hip, leg and foot pain as well as numbness, weakness, "pins and needles" or tingling in these areas.
· As we get older, our spines often start to exhibit age-related changes, occasionally growing bone spurs, or just starting to narrow and compress the spinal cord, thus pinching and irritating nerves as they exit the spine.
· The sciatic nerve passes very close to a muscle at the back of your pelvis, called the piriformis. When the muscle shortens or spasms, it can compress the sciatic nerve, causing symptoms down the leg.
· During pregnancy, the weight of the foetus can press onto the sciatic nerve. While it’s not harmful to the baby, it can be very frustrating for expectant mothers!
· And for the gentlemen, there’s “wallet sciatica”, caused by sitting down with an over-stuffed wallet in your back pocket, thus compressing the nerve as it passes around the back of the pelvis. There’s a simple solution for this one!
However, there are a lot of other conditions which can cause very similar symptoms. As osteopaths, we are trained to be able to determine the most likely cause of your symptoms, whether it is something relatively simple, or a more complex condition that might require further specialist attention.
At your appointment, we’ll make a diagnosis, then discuss treatment options with you. Treatment will usually involve the application of some gentle and very effective osteopathic techniques to calm the irritation in the area and relieve pressure on the nerve. We can advise you on what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and offer you some simple stretches and exercises to continue the healing process on your own time.
We are able to send you for an x-ray if we think it will give us information helpful in the management of your symptoms, and we can refer you for further specialist attention if needed.
At City Osteopaths, we are excellent at getting you out of pain quickly. We also regularly collaborate with our on-site acupuncturists and massage therapists to provide a well-rounded healing process.
If you have any questions, call us on 04 4991439 to book an appointment or if you would like Lara to give you a call back.
M.Ost., B.App.Sc. (Human Biol.)MONZ
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