There are many misconceptions about sciatic pain. It tends to be a label that is given to anyone with pain down the back of their leg. So what exactly is sciatica and what causes it? This blog will clear up these question for you and give you some tips to manage your pain.
What exactly is sciatic pain?
Sciatic pain is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttock muscles and down the back of the leg. It can feel like a burning and/or stabbing pain, a constant dull ache or a pulsating pain that can range from irritating to excruciating.
There are many things that can cause irritation of the nerve including:
- Inflammation around the lower back
- Tightness in the piriformis and gluteal muscles
- Hamstring tightness
- Injury to a low back disc
- A narrowing of the spinal canal that the nerve passes through
It is very common for people to mistake other problems for sciatic pain. Other common conditions that present in a similar way include:
- Referred pain from the joints in the lower back (not from the sciatic nerve)
- Pain in the buttock from the sacro-iliac joint (where the sacrum joins onto the pelvis)
- Referred pain from the hip
- Hamstring and or lower leg muscle tightness
What Causes the Symptoms
This will vary for everyone however common aggravating factors include:
- Driving the car
- Sitting for prolonged periods
- Bending over
Ways to relieve the pain
- Heat pack to the lower back
- A tens machine (make sure you seek the advice of a health professional on how to use these safely)
- Gentle movement in the water
- Massage to the lower back and legs
- Stretches for the upper back and gentle lumbar spine movements and stretches
Here are some general stretches that usually help sciatic pain sufferers. Please do these gently and seek help if they don’t provide relief.
Piriformis/glueal muscle release with tennis ball
It’s important to remember that the cause of everyone’s sciatic pain is different therefore there is no one size fits all approach to treatment. The above stretches are very generalized. It is important that you feel no pain when performing them. A thorough assessment is necessary to determine what stretches and exercises will treat the cause of your sciatic pain and provide you with the maximum relief!
If you would like to make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, give one of our friendly team members a call on 4724 0768 or CLICK HERE to book online.