Can Osteopathy Help With Sciatica?

Can Osteopathy Help With Sciatica?

Sciatica medical health care vector illustration scheme with lower spine and sciatic nerve pain in leg. Backbone diagram with vertebrae, disks and nerves. Full woman patient body from back.

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 of 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 re-occurring 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 can leave the person momentarily incapacitated.

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.
  • Numbness.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • 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.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. Inflammation of a joint located in the pelvis.
  • Cancer. Primary or metastatic tumours.
  • Osteoarthritis. An arthritic hip joint.

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 grows.

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 overall spinal functional movement, thereby relieving stress on the affected areas. Treatments may include a combination of manual joint manipulation or articulation, 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 muscle activation.

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.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs flat and feet pointing upwards towards the ceiling.
  2. Bend one leg up towards your chest and clasp your hands around the knee.
  3. Gently pull the leg across your body toward the opposite shoulder.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, release and repeat 4 or 5 times.
  5. Push your knee so your leg returns to its starting position.
  6. Repeat for a total of 3 reps, and then switch legs.

Knee Hugs

The stretch is aimed at mobilising the lower spine an improving blood flow to the low back. 

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Wrap both arms around your knees and rock them towards your chest.
  3. Do this each time for about 20 seconds. 
  4. 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.

Better Health Osteopathy
Better Health Osteopathy
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.

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