What is Sciatica?
‘Sciatica’ is usually used to describe pains in the leg which can accompany back pain. But what does it mean? Sciatica is very simply the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.
What are the signs and symptoms of Sciatica?
When the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain, numbness or tingling that can radiate from your lower back and travel down one of your legs to your foot and toes.
The pain can range from being mild to very painful, and may be made worse by sneezing, coughing, or sitting for a long period of time.
But what can cause sciatica?
Some common causes are disc herniation (commonly referred to as a slipped disc), and wear and tear in the lumbar spine – spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. There are other causes but these are far less common.
What are treatments for sciatica?
Sciatica may pass without treatment or it can often get worse if left untreated and, although it may resolve, research suggests that around 60% of sufferers will experience another episode within two years.
Sciatica can be extremely painful and debilitating. Luckily here are a number of simple things you can do to help reduce the symptoms. The most important thing you can do is to remain as physically active as possible. Simple exercises, such as walking or stretching, can help to relieve or reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Using an icepack on the painful areas for 20 minutes at a time, separated by 40-60 minute intervals, may help to reduce the pain. You may also find some relief from anti-inflammatory medication but you should consult a pharmacist or your GP first.
Finally, if you experience these symptoms you may wish to come and see me. I will first examine you to find out what the cause of your pain is and once we know the cause of your problem we can start to get you back to your normal activities. Treatment can help significantly to lower the level of pain, improve mobility, and make future episodes far less likely to happen.
For further information feel free to call or email me.