at the Park Practice

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a common complication of lower back pain or stiffness.

It is caused by an irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. This large nerve is formed from 5 separate nerve roots in the low part of the spine.

It runs from the lower back through the buttock and down the back of the thigh, it divides at the knee and serves the whole lower part of the leg and foot.

Sciatica generally only affect one of the legs although occasionally both are painful.

Sciatica is commonly felt as pain in the buttock, often worse when sitting when it may feel a bit like a ‘lump’, or in the back of the thigh, where it may feel like a pulled hamstring muscle. It may also be felt in the shin or around the ankle.

There is sometimes tingling, especially in the foot or toes and there may be some numbness, usually in the lower part of the leg or foot.

At times there may be some weakness in the muscles of the leg usually in the lower leg or in the foot. This may be experienced as a tendency to trip, as the muscles that lift the toes whilst walking are often the ones affected. 

Sciatica may come on suddenly or gradually over a period of days or weeks. It is not uncommon for a painfully stiff back to seemingly resolve, only for the sciatic pain to start hours or days later.

The many varieties of sciatica mean that a diagnosis as to the exact cause is important, as this will give a good idea as to how long it will take to subside.

Treatment from your osteopath will help release those restrictions responsible for the initial inflammation or entrapment.

They will also look at the factors that might have led to the low back or pelvic restrictions in the first place.

A simple daily exercise programme will often be prescribed to avoid future relapses.