Do you suffer with low back or sciatica pain that radiates down into the buttocks, back of the thigh and lower into the legs? Is it sharp pain accompanied by tingling, pins and needles or numbness? Was it triggered by a minor movement such as bending over to pick something up and made worse by sitting, coughing or sneezing?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may have Sciatica. Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by a number of factors - one of the most common is piriformis syndrome. A simple solution exists should this be the cause and is something that is seen and addressed in our practice regularly.
Treatment really depends on the cause of the injury and the extent of the symptoms. Pain relief is the first priority. Severe cases which are usually caused by a prolapsed or slipped disc often require surgery although conservative treatment is usually tried first.
A professional therapist can often determine the cause of the sciatica. Regardless, rest from activities which aggravate the condition and applying ice to the area of discomfort will be your best friend during an acute flare up. Just be sure to place something like a thin towel between your skin and the ice to prevent cold burns. Ice should be applied for between 15-20 minutes and then repeated after each hour without.
A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication e.g. ibuprofen or muscle relaxants if necessary.
The use of massage therapy to relax tight muscles and gently apply mobilization techniques to the spine is usually very helpful in relieving symptoms.
After the acute painful phase restoration of pain free movement to the back through mobilization and stretching techniques is encouraged. Re-education on proper posture and correct lifting techniques are learned and maintained.
Stretching exercises can be used to help reduce muscle tension. Stretches for the lower back and buttock muscles are particularly useful. Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds, rest and repeat the same stretch once or even twice more. Do this several times a day. Don't stretch if you feel any pain at the time, or if you feel this exacerbates on condition later on.
Mobility & strengthening - if your sciatica is caused by a lumbar disc prolapse (slipped disc) then extension exercises are recommended to help reduce the compression of the disc on the nerve root. Again, stop immediately if there is any pain or discomfort.