Sciatica is one of the most common symptoms presented at our clinics, however, it has often been poorly diagnosed or misunderstood in its origin. The cause of Sciatica (pronounced siatica or si-at-ic-a) is essentially compression on the Sciatic Nerve and is often a symptom associated with disc injuries.
Sciatica can be a pain, weakness or a tingling sensation which mirrors the path of the nerve and is characterised by pain that runs from the lower back, into the back of the buttock, down the leg, calf and even into the ankle and foot. Sciatica has many variations in how it presents, it can be intermittent or persistent; it can also change in its severity from mild to severely debilitating and can often last for many years. Symptoms of Sciatica can range from mild pain to constant and debilitating pain and can be felt in different ways such as a sharp or deep and aching pain; it can feel like a cramp, or a tingling feeling like pins and needles.
The reason Sciatica varies in such a way is that rather than being a condition itself, Sciatica is a symptom or sign of a more serious problem usually originating from within the spine.
Causes of Sciatic Pain
The Sciatic nerve originates mainly from the base three nerves of the Lumbar Spine known as L4, L5 & S1, these three roots come together in the buttocks on each side to form the common sciatic nerve. Due to the three levels of origin there are multiple places in the spine for the nerve to be pinched, each giving a slightly different pattern of pain and dysfunction.
Additionally, the nerve can be being pinched due to either 1) mechanical dysfunction; a spasm of the muscles or a locking of the joints. 2) damage to the disc; causing a bulge to press onto the nerve or inflammation to leak onto the nerve irritating it. 3) Arthritic change; dehydration of the disc reducing the adjacent nerve space, bone spurs from the vertebra or stenosis (enlarging) of the facet joints.
NB/ in reality by the time a patient seeks out professional help to alleviate the pain it is likely to be a combination of these 3 causes of Sciatica that adds up to their complaint; each of which ProBack Practitioners are experts at identifying and treating.
Symptoms of Sciatica
Here are some of the most common symptoms of Sciatica:
- Pain radiating down the leg
- Burning or pins and needles sensation in the leg
- Pain that is made worse by otherwise normal activities (e.g. sitting, lifting, coughing or sneezing)
- Consistent pain on one side of the leg or buttocks
Each case will have its own set of triggers and you might find your symptoms are worse when doing certain things, like lifting, sitting, coughing or sneezing. An increase in the amount of stress you put your body will generally lead to an increase in pain, unfortunately, too little activity can be just as stressful on the body, with pain developing over time as a result of the delayed reaction of the inflammatory process.
The first thing we’ll need to do is identify the triggers and find the underlying cause(s). Practitioners at ProBack Clinics will take your medical history, complete a thorough examination and perform physical tests to identify the specific cause of the Sciatica. Standing, weight-bearing x-rays may be needed to help unlock the puzzle and should something irregular be found then occasionally we may refer you for an MRI, preferably taken in an upright position.
Treatment for Sciatica
Treatment obviously needs to be specific to the individual case, no matter the root cause of pain, the bigger picture of dysfunction must also be addressed, as the long term security of the spine requires us to fix the mechanical dysfunction as well as the nerve/disc damage.
There is no cure for Sciatica as by definition it is not a disease but a symptom of damage or dysfunction somewhere else; however at ProBack Clinics we believe we are uniquely positioned within the UK to offer treatment in the form of the most advanced blend of technology specifically designed to bridge the gap between standard Chiropractic or Osteopathic care and the need for surgical intervention.
We have specifically structured programs, utilising advanced technology, developed from combining information from the latest research with years of inhouse clinical experience.
Our initial focus when treating Sciatica is pain relief, our most effective therapy especially in cases of Sciatica is usually Spinal Decompression, we combine this care with Shockwave Therapy to improve movement patterns and restore the correct function to aid in the healing of the disc and to prevent the complaint from returning. In severe cases where patients are extremely inflamed, we can rely on a short burst of Laser Therapy to reduce inflammation and enable us to begin decompression therapy.
By removing the pressure on the nerve, we often alleviate pain directly, sometimes the pain undergoes characteristic changes on the road to recovery, this is known as centralisation with pain reducing in the lower part of the leg before it does in the upper leg and back. A recent audit conducted by our original ProBack centre in Surbiton determined an 80% pain relief in patients who presented with Sciatica and who completed a 9-week course of care.
Find out more about Sciatica on our Blogs page – What is Sciatica?
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a symptom caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. This pressure can result in numbness, tingling, pins and needles, weakness and pain in the back and down the legs.
What causes Sciatica?
Sciatica can result from a disc injury, disc herniation, incorrect spinal position or bad posture over many years can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve over time.
What is the typical treatment plan for Sciatica?
An initial phase of 12 decompression treatments over four to six weeks can be used for Sciatica, but everybody is different! Treatment plans vary depending on your condition. During our consultation process, we will tailor a treatment plan to suit your individual needs. Healing of the spine varies from person to person, so although many patients feel relief from the first treatment, others may take up to 12-24 sessions.
How can spinal decompression help with Sciatica pain relief?
Non-surgical spinal decompression gently applies a form of traction to the spine, causing the vertebras to separate. This helps to reposition a bulging disc by drawing in disc material, resulting in less pressure on the nerves. Nutrients, oxygen and fluids are then able to fill the area again, creating the right healing environment for the discs.
Can treatment for Sciatica last long-term?
Standard treatment plans at Proback Clinics are generally split into two phases, to give you the best results long term. The first phase will be pain relieving care, then the next phase involves spinal remodelling and rehabilitative care, to potentially help extend pain relief in the long term.
What are the best exercises for Sciatica pain relief?
Before jumping into an exercise programme, it is crucial to know the underlying problem if you suffer from Sciatica. Physical activity may help your treatment and progression to continue outside the clinic. As a guideline we only introduce exercises if you’re ready to perform exercises safely – for most patients this usually happens after an initial course of treatment has been completed.
In general, exercises such as nerve flossing or lumbar rolls are useful for those suffering with Sciatica. Nerve flossing helps to relieve neural tension caused by spine compression, and is performed by slightly over-stretching a body segment until the altered nerve sensation is felt. This stretch helps to reduce numbness, tingling and pain, and can be done on the arms or legs. Each movement should be held for around thirty seconds and performed throughout the day.
Proback have been amazing they have given me my life back!
“I was shocked at the difference after my first session.”
“I feel stronger and the pain is gone”
“My pain disappeared“