What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through your hips and down each leg. When there’s an injury or an issue putting pressure on that nerve, it can cause pain and numbness in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. This is called sciatica.
What Causes Sciatica?
Often, sciatica is caused by a spinal issue such as a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, or a bone spur. These issues can compress part of the sciatic nerve. However, there is a range of other possible causes, such as:
- Repetitive strain
- Muscle spasms
- Sitting on hard surfaces
- Previous injuries to the same area
Signs and Symptoms of Sciatica
The main telltale symptom of sciatica is nerve pain that radiates from your lower spine to your buttock and the back of your leg (it normally only affects one side of the body).
Other signs that you may be dealing with sciatica include:
- Symptoms get aggravated by sitting for too long
- Leg or foot tingling, numbness, or weakness
- Pain can range from mild achiness to excruciating
- Pain can increase when you sneeze or cough
How is Sciatica Treated?
There are a number of treatment options for sciatica. They include:
- Physiotherapy: Provides exercises, stretches, and retraining to relieve pain, solve dysfunctions, and restore physical capabilities.
- Medications: Including muscle relaxants, narcotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Steroid injections: Can be made to the area around the affected nerve root.
- Surgery: May be used if other treatments don’t work and/or the compressed nerve causes serious complications.
Physiotherapy for Sciatica
Physiotherapy is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment that can relieve pain and restore strength and mobility. At Activa Clinics, our physiotherapists can identify sciatica and create a custom treatment plan to solve it. That plan can involve a range of therapies, including:
How to Prevent Sciatica
There are a few simple steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of developing sciatica. Many of them are related to avoiding risk factors like sitting on hard surfaces for prolonged periods. They include:
- Use an ergonomically designed chair at work
- Take regular breaks
- Avoid sitting in one position too long
- Exercise regularly
- Use proper posture
- Maintain a healthy weight
Book an Appointment
Without any treatment, sciatica can potentially result in permanent nerve damage. So you should seek medical advice if you suspect you have sciatica. Our experts can get to the bottom of it and help you fully recover as soon as possible.
Untreated sciatica can lead to severe issues. That is why seeking medical treatment for your condition immediately after a diagnosis should be your top priority. Some of the issues that can arise from untreated sciatica include permanent nerve damage, loss of feeling in the affected limb, and loss of bladder control.
Many people with lower back, hip, and leg pain as symptoms are often diagnosed with sciatica. A herniated disc in the lower back or conditions like SI joint dysfunction or piriformis syndrome often cause sciatica. People with sciatica often complain about radiating pain, which is why it is possible for other people with similar symptoms to be misdiagnosed with sciatica. Some of the common conditions misdiagnosed as sciatica are hip bursitis, femoral nerve entrapment, and trigger points.
No. Diagnosing sciatica should be done by a medical professional to ensure that the diagnosis is correct. There are different tests that the doctor will need to perform in a medical facility, such as medical imaging tests and diagnostic nerve blocks. These tests, together with a physical examination and medical history check, cannot be done at home unless you are a medical professional.