The sciatic nerve is a major nerve that runs from the lower back down through the hips and along the back of both legs.
The sciatic nerve plays an incredibly important role in sending and receiving messages and controlling the legs and lower back. And when things go wrong with the sciatic nerve the nerve pain can be very severe and debilitating.
Sciatica is a general term that covers a complex variety of sciatic nerve pain and symptoms caused by compression or pinching. Sciatica is extremely common.
Fortunately, qualified podiatrists have a range of highly effective remedies that will provide rapid and ongoing relief.
What Are The Symptoms?
Sciatica pain is typically described as:
- Burning, tingling pain or sharp pain—usually constant
- Pain radiates from lower spine down through your buttocks & back of your leg
- Sciatica pain tends to affect one side only
- Pain worsens with sitting or standing for long periods
- May experience unusual skin sensations such as tingling or numbness
If your pain is a dull ache as opposed to a sharp pain then it probably isn’t sciatica.
Symptoms of sciatica usually worsen with activities such as bending. Remember, your experience of sciatica may be vastly different to the symptoms of another person.
What Is It, What Causes It?
Sciatica is a general term that covers nerve pain radiating throughout the lower back, buttocks and legs all the way down to the feet. A pinched, compressed or irritated sciatic nerve is the typical trigger for sciatica symptoms.
- Nerve compression or pinching can be the result of a number of conditions including:
- Herniated disc or bulging lumbar intervertebral disc
- Spondylolisthesis – a vertebrae slips and compresses the sciatic nerve roots
- Swollen piriformis muscle can put pressure on the sciatic nerve (rare)
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – narrowing of the spinal canal pinches the sciatic nerve
- Uneven leg lengths—trigger leg and hip rotations that compress the sciatic nerve roots
- Degenerative disc disease –as a result of the ageing process places pressure on the sciatic nerve
- Weakness and lack of mobility in core trunk muscles and legs
- Injury trauma—can cause sciatic nerve impingement
Other known causes of sciatica include conditions such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or ischemia (inadequate blood supply).
Sciatica frequently occurs in manual labourers, sedentary people (who lack core muscle strength), people with poor posture, and during pregnancy. Elderly people suffering from osteoarthritis where spinal degeneration leads to spinal stenosis are also at risk of developing sciatica.
Sciatica can cause such a wide variety of aches and pains that it’s important to get a definitive diagnosis.
Recording the patient medical history, physical examination and ultrasound imaging all help build a clear picture and confirm the podiatrist’s diagnosis.
Your podiatrist can accurately diagnose sciatica and design the optimal treatment programme for your condition and help you be pain-free as soon as possible. Although your sciatica symptoms may include shooting pain or chronic pain, surgical treatment is not usually necessary.
What’s The Best Treatment For Sciatica Pain?
An accurate diagnosis is the key to rapid sciatica recovery. Generally, nonsurgical sciatica treatments will be sufficient to provide lasting sciatic pain relief.
A combination of treatments including physical therapy usually provides the optimal results in reducing the symptoms of sciatica and providing a long-term solution.
Rest is always the first step in treating sciatica. Physical therapy such as massage and physical manipulation are very helpful for reducing the pressure and inflammation on the sciatic nerve.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help reduce the pain and swelling in and around the inflamed sciatic nerve.
More Treatment Options
Strengthening exercises and mobilisation techniques will help release pressure on the sciatic nerve. Shockwave therapy or dry needling services are medically reviewed and proven techniques for reducing inflammation in soft tissue, alleviating sciatic pain, as well as increasing blood circulation and accelerating recovery.
Foot strapping and dense foam rubber cushioning in supportive shoes can help your feet, ankles, legs and hips perform more efficiently and release pressure on the sciatic nerve and reduce leg pain.
Custom orthotics provide even more support for those people where gait and misalignment issues sit at the heart of a sciatica condition. We use advanced video gait analysis to determine how your running / walking / bending movement might be affecting the sciatic nerve roots.
The expert podiatry team at Erica Dash podiatry is dedicated to bringing real healing and change for those suffering from painful sciatica conditions. If you are experiencing lower back pain or discomfort or restricted movement anywhere from the lower back down to your feet, then pop in and see us.
Shockwave is a great alternative to treatments such as dry needling if you’re needle phobic and not keen on dry needling. We also have effective treatment offers for kids.