Sciatica is an irritation of the Sciatic nerve, causing pain down the back of the leg. As it’s a nerve-generated pain, it can be quite severe in nature and doesn’t respond to the usual range of over-the-counter medications.
Sciatica requires a different approach than other causes of leg pain such as a nerve irritation at the back or muscle/tendon problems affecting hamstrings and calves. This is because Sciatica behaves differently and won’t respond to most of the treatment approaches used on other conditions.
Although pain is the classic symptom of Sciatica, it may occasionally include pins and needles or numbness (however these tend to be quite transient). Sciatic pain won’t refer higher than the buttock but can often be associated with a concurrent lower back injury causing back pain. The nerve irritation can also cause a cramp-like feeling, particularly in the calf muscle and under the foot.
Gaining some relief from Sciatica can be challenging. We’ve seen lots of people with Sciatica over the years and we find that a combination of approaches works most effectively. These can include:
- gentle stretching of the muscles around the hip**,
- trigger point and massage work around the deeper hip muscles, and
- some movement-focused exercises designed to restore normal function to the affected area around the hip, without overloading or fatiguing the muscles involved.
** It’s important to note that hamstring stretches often add additional pressure and irritation to the sciatic nerve and aren’t helpful, despite the feeling of hamstrings tightness.
Often the success of our approach is due to both the interventions performed and the activities that are avoided or modified to relieve additional load on the nerve. And although most medications are ineffective for Sciatica, there are some medications that are specific to nerve pain which can be used in more extreme cases but these are only available with a doctor’s prescription.
The vast majority of our clients who presented with Sciatica get early relief within a few days and the condition is often resolved in under 3 to 4 weeks.
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