Sciatica is commonly described as pain experienced mostly on one side of the body and runs down the buttock, hamstring and sometimes extends to the lower leg. Sciatica pain is normally caused by compression of the nerve that originates from your lower back. It can be triggered by joint inflammation, tight buttock, arthritic growth or locked facet joints.
Symptoms that are generally experienced are:
- Pain in the lower back, buttock and back of leg
- Pins and needles down the leg
- Weakness and numbness of the leg or foot
- Sharp pain when standing up
However, just because you tick most of the boxes above, you still may not have sciatica. Leg pain can be from various causes and sciatica is often misdiagnosed. Therefore, you should always get yourself diagnosed by a therapist who will take into consideration the findings from the physical examination and the history of symptoms.
Sciatica is firstly managed conservatively with a combination of pain relief medications and physical therapy. The majority of people who experience sciatica get better within a few weeks or months with the right Physiotherapy treatment. If the symptoms do not improve your therapist might suggest surgery (only as a last resort). However, research has shown that long term benefits from surgery appear to be equivalent to the conservative care.
Research conducted in 2011 showed that the best results are seen by restoring normal flexibility, posture and strength through a directional bias exercise plan. Here, at Fresh Start Physio we treat our patients using the concept of Clinical Pilates which is a rehabilitation modality developed by Craig Phillips, Director of DMA (Dance Medicine Australia). Clinical Pilates is used to restore dynamic postural stability deficits following the directional bias concept.
This article was originally published on Wisdom Physiotherapy. It has been modified and re-published with permission.
Valat, JP; Genevay, S; Marty, M; Rozenberg, S; Koes, B (April 2010). “Sciatica.”. Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology. 24 (2): 241–52.
Markova, Tsvetio (2007). “Treatment of Acute Sciatica”. Am Fam Physician. 75 (1): 99–100.