Sciatica is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is described as a sensation experienced along the course of the sciatic nerve. It is generally painful and can be extremely debilitating. Patients may also experience numbness, pins & needles, burning, aching, etc
The sciatic nerve is very large, it is formed by the union of four separate nerves (Roots) that arise between the vertebrae in the lower back. The nerve provides the electrical supply from the brain down to the back of the thighs and the whole of the lower leg as far as the toes. It also carries information back to the brain, and it is along this path that we feel pain.
The symptoms develop in one, some or all of the following: lower back, buttock, back of the thigh, behind the knee and into the lower leg, foot and toes.If you lie on your back and try to lift your leg with the knee straight, the pain worsens. It may also worsen with coughing, sneezing, bending forwards, straining on the toilet etc. It is often worse in the mornings, or after sitting or standing for prolonged periods.
There are many reasons for pain along the course of the nerve:
There are other, more uncommon causes, but it is important that someone who develops sciatica be assessed properly by an experienced practitioner, to ensure that there is no underlying problem. The major danger with severe sciatica is where the nerve supply to the leg or pelvic organs is so badly interrupted that power and sensation is lost, and may not be regained.
Treatment depends on the duration and severity of the sciatica:
If symptoms last for more than a couple of days, or are very severe, you should see either your osteopath or GP as soon as possible. Delaying treatment will possibly prolong the symptoms. An Osteopath will asses you properly, and safely to determine the cause.
If appropriate, you will receive gentle treatment to settle the local inflammation and restore spinal mobility. An osteopath may suggest medication and exercise where appropriate. If there anything worrying is present, this will be quickly identified and he will direct you accordingly, for x-ray, M.R.I. scan or further investigation. Call now to enable osteopathy to ease your aches and pains.