According to Harvard Medical School as many as 40% of people may encounter sciatica at some point during their lives. The frequency peaks around 45 to 64 years of age with other risk factors including those who smoke, those who are taller than average and those who undertake strenuous physical activity on a daily basis.
The good news is that in most cases sciatica can be treated
successfully without major medical intervention, read on to find out exactly
what sciatica is and how Osteopathy can help with your sciatica.
What Is Sciatica?
The term ‘sciatica’ refers to pain, inflammation and
neurological sensations associated with the sciatic nerve, most commonly
presenting itself as pain radiating down the back of the leg. Sciatica is not
actually a medical diagnosis; it is more a reference to symptoms of an
underlying medical condition.
Sciatica can be a reoccurring issue, often worsening over
time and can relate to daily activities. The pain can be described as anything
from a dull ache to a shooting pain that leave the person momentarily
Symptoms Of Sciatica
People experiencing sciatica may have a number of symptoms that could include any one or more of the following.
Throbbing pain in the lower back, buttocks or legs while sitting.
Pain in the buttock or down the leg.
Pins and needles or tingling.
Difficulty in moving or controlling the leg.
Lower back pain that is exacerbated when you cough or sneeze.
Conditions That Can Mimic Sciatic Pain
It is important to note that there are other conditions that can present with the same sorts of pain and symptoms as sciatica, some examples of these are:
Piriformis Syndrome. Muscle spasm of the buttocks.
Broken Bones. A broken hip bone for example.
Osteoarthritis. An arthritic hip joint.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. Inflammation of a joint located in the pelvis.
What Causes Sciatica?
Sometimes people are unaware that their symptoms relate to sciatica so it is helpful to understand what causes it. There can be a number of underlying conditions contributing to the pain associated with sciatica these may include.
A herniated or prolapsed disc in the lower back
(the most common cause)
Growths within the spine
Spinal Stenosis (a narrowing of the nerve
passages in the spine)
Piriformis Syndrome (spasm of the piriformis
muscle located in the buttock region)
Trauma to the lower back
Pregnancy is also a common factor as during
pregnancy the pelvis and lower back are placed under pressure as the baby
How Can Osteopathy Help Sciatica?
An Osteopath is able to work towards relieving the symptoms
of Sciatica by seeking out the underlying cause of the pain. In most cases
sciatic nerve pain can be improved by decreasing muscle spasm, improving joint
mobility and functional movement thereby relieving the affected areas. Treatments
may include a combination of manual joint, muscle, or tendon manipulation to
reduce pressure on the Sciatic Nerve.
Once the initial pain has been reduced, an Osteopathic
treatment approach will include focusing on recovery exercises and
rehabilitation methods with a view to preventing further episodes. This will involve
an exercise regime that aims to restore mobility, build postural strength and encourage
Top 2 Sciatica Exercises
These are our top two sciatica exercises, remember when
carrying out these exercises you should only feel a relieving stretch in your
muscle, not pain.
Knee To Opposite Shoulder
This simple stretch can help loosen your gluteal and piriformis muscles.
Lie on your back with your legs flat and feet pointing upwards towards the ceiling.
Bend one leg up towards your chest and clasp your hands around the knee.
Gently pull the leg across your body toward the opposite shoulder.
Hold for 30 seconds, release and repeat 4 or 5 times.
Push your knee so your leg returns to its starting position.
Repeat for a total of 3 reps, and then switch legs.
The stretch is aimed at creating extension within the spine.
Lie flat on your stomach on the floor.
Rest on your forearms with your elbows bent at your sides (without your head on the floor).
Look towards the floor and keep your neck straight, keep your hips on the floor.
Gently arch your back up by pushing down on your hands and elbows (You should feel a gentle stretch in the stomach muscles).
Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, release and repeat 8 to 10 times.
If you are struggling with sciatic pain – please do not
hesitate to contact Lorraine Herity at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch
today. Call 027 7555700 or book online.
Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health, and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible.