As medical professionals, we see quite a few patients with symptoms of sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body and spans from the lower back to the foot on both sides of the body.
So what exactly is Sciatica?
People use this term all the time, and often people use it incorrectly. Sciatica describes a set of symptoms that arise when one or more of the nerves exiting the low back become irritated or compressed. Sciatica can present itself as pain in the low back, buttock, thigh, leg or foot on one side of the body, or on both sides. Other symptoms can include weakness of the leg and foot muscles, a sensation of pins and needles, tingling and numbness.
How common is it?
While not as prevalent as low back pain, it is estimated that 5-10% of people who have low back pain will develop sciatica.
What causes sciatica?
Sciatica is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve bundle that comes from the low back and runs down the whole leg.
There are a few different causes of sciatica symptoms:
The most common is a lumbar disc bulge or herniation. A bulging or herniated disc can compress the nerve where it exits the low back.
Another common cause is stenosis. As the joints in the lumbar spine degenerate with age, the size of the hole where the nerves exit gets smaller. This can lead to compression or pressure on the nerves and one may develop sciatica symptoms.
How is it treated?
Luckily, at Rehab1, we have a number of options for those who suffer with sciatica pain. Physiotherapy is a treatment option, and involves assessment by one of our experienced Physiotherapists to determine the severity, level of inflammation, and cause of your sciatica symptoms. Treatment is then individually tailored to the specific cause of the sciatica symptoms, and most often will involve a progressive exercise and movement regime. Physiotherapy treatment also will include hands on (manual) therapy, pain relieving modalities, and may also include acupuntcure. Your physiotherapist can also give you tips in order to prevent future recurrences of sciatica.
Chiropractic is another treatment option, and is based on the principle that restricted spinal movement leads to pain and reduced function. Following a detailed assessments, your Chiropractor will determine the level at which an adjustment will be most beneficial. Adjustment techniques vary from a swift high velocity thrust to those that combine minimal force and gentle pressure. Mastery of each technique is an art that requires great skill and precision.
We can help! If you are suffering from sciatica or have any questions related to sciatica, call Rehab One Performance Center at 854-1151 to book an assessment with one of our experienced Physiotherapists and Chiropractors.