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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. It most commonly occurs when a herniated disk or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the sciatic nerve. The pain can be described as anything from a dull ache to a shooting pain that can leave the person momentarily incapacitated. Although the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, the majority of cases resolve within a few weeks. However, some people who have severe sciatica, that's associated with significant leg weakness, or bowel or bladder changes may require surgical intervention.
People experiencing sciatica may have a number of symptoms that could include any one or more of the following:
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.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
Your Osteopath can diagnose Sciatica after taking a detailed medical history and physical examination. MRI and other imaging are not normally required unless your symptoms are severe and we suspect that a corticosteroid injection or surgery may be required. If this is the case, your Osteopath will make a referral to an Orthopaedic specialist and request an MRI.
Although most people recover fully from sciatica, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any loss of bowel or bladder function.
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 spasms, 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.