What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is an umbrella term referring to all conditions or injuries that cause irritation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. This nerve originates in the low back and travels down the backside of each buttock, hip and leg. The sciatic nerve can be compromised in a variety of different ways. The nerve can be pinched or compressed by a herniated or prolapsed disc and/or by a bone spur or narrowing of the intervertebral foramen (a boney canal where the nerve exits the spine). The nerve can also be compressed through the myofascial tunnels that it passes through as it travels down your leg (such as the piriformis muscle).
Typical Signs and Symptoms
Since the nerve can become irritated in a variety of ways, the presentation can vary from person to person based on their unique presentation. In general, patients who have sciatic type pain will complain of discomfort in their low back and leg. Also, patients may also describe feelings of numbness or tingling in their leg and foot as well as weakness of their leg muscles.
Conservative management strategies such as physiotherapy or chiropractic care are treatment solutions that have been supported by the research and provide better outcomes over the long term. Your physiotherapist and/or chiropractor will complete a thorough evaluation of your back, pelvis, hips and lower extremity to determine the underlying cause of your sciatic symptoms. Once your therapist determines where your sciatic nerve is being compressed they will use manual techniques to mobilize your restricted joints/tissues, use prescriptive exercise to improve your muscle imbalances and incorporate other modalities to facilitate recovery of the sciatic nerve. In addition, acupuncture can be used to reduce your pain and facilitate nerve tissue healing. Your physiotherapist or chiropractor will let you know if acupuncture will benefit you and if it should be incorporated into your treatment plan.
For more information, check out our blog on sciatica treatments and the benefits of conservative management over surgery or contact us today.