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Understanding Sciatica

SCIATICA – WHAT IS IT?

The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body. It travels from your lower back through your hip and buttock and down your leg where it divides into two branches at the knee. Each leg has its own sciatic nerve that travels from your lower back through your buttock and hip then down your leg where it divides into two branches at the knee to your foot.

Symptoms can include pain such as:

  • Cramping
  • Burning
  • Shooting sensations in the hip and thigh
  • The pain can extend all the way to the foot and toes.
  • Instead of pain some experience a numb and weak feeling in the parts of their leg where it hurts.
  • An uncommon situation is disruption of bowel and bladder control or numbness to your genitals. This could indicate serious damage to the nerve and requires immediate medical attention.

The pain can be shooting,  often described by sufferers as an electric shock.  Or it can present as a burning, tingling or dead leg feeling. The symptoms can be intermittent or continuous and some people have the above symptoms in different parts of their leg.

Simple movements such as coughing, bending, or squatting, all of which put pressure on the nerve, can aggravate these symptoms. For some people the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating. For others the pain can be infrequent and irritating but always has the potential to get worse.

Causes of Sciatica

    Herniated or “slipped” disc

v     Spinal Stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back

v     Piriformis syndrome – causes the piriformis muscle that runs directly above  the sciatic nerve to tighten or go into spasm

v     Spondylothesis – a condition when one vertebra slips forward over another

v     Pregnancy

v     Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis or Osteophytes (Bone Spurs) – caused by  process of arthritis

    Trauma

    Tumour (rarely)

Sciatica is one of the most common conditions treated by osteopaths who use the most appropriate techniques to encourage relaxation of contracted muscles and realignment of the spine.

Osteopathy has proved to be very effective in the treatment of sciatic pain.

 

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