Sciatica is a term used to describe pain that runs from the lower back, and extends down to the lower leg. It is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve especially during pregnancy. Some of the symptoms that manifest on patients with sciatica include hip pain, lower back pain, weakness on the leg and feet, pain that makes it hard for you to stand straight, and pain on the leg that worsens when you are sitting.
Age – Spine injuries (bone spurs, herniated disk) that develop as we age are the most common causes of sciatica. People in their 30s and 40s are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Occupation – If your job involves carrying heavy loads for long periods, or driving long distance, then you might be at risk of developing spinal injuries that can in turn lead to sciatica.
Obesity – Obesity places an extra weight on your back, and when the spinal structures become damaged from carrying that extra weight, herniated disc and sciatica can develop
Prolonged sitting – If you sit for hours at a time, or lead a sedentary lifestyle, you risk injuring your spine and developing sciatica.
How do I treat Sciatica?
There are several treatment options for sciatica. We will go over some of them below.
The pain associated with this condition can be so severe that it can start affecting your everyday life. Luckily, not all sciatica cases require surgery, and many patients find that the condition can resolve with non-operative treatments.
We will look at some of the remedies for sciatica that can relieve you of pain and numbness once and for all.
How A Physio Can Help
Consult with your trusted physiotherapist on the manual techniques that can be performed to reduce the pain associated with sciatica. Your treatment plan may be different from other people who have the same condition because every phase of the treatment will be based on your symptoms and tolerance levels.
We go over the phases of sciatica treatment through physiotherapy:
Phase 1 Pain relief and management
Pain and discomfort are the early symptoms that may have prompted you to seek treatment in the first place, so your physiotherapist will spend sufficient time understanding your symptoms and relieving the pain.
Phase 2 Restoring normal strength and function on the affected areas
The second phase of your treatment will focus on helping you regain the normal flexibility and strength in the lower back, buttock, and lower leg. At this stage, the inflammation and pain you originally experienced will have settled already, so it is much easier for your physiotherapist to prescribe physical activities that will help restore your range of motion.
Depending on the treatment plan that your physiotherapist will advise, you may have to undertake a program that involves doing strengthening exercises.
Back strengthening exercises are especially useful at conditioning the muscles to provide improved support to your spine. An increase in muscle endurance can in turn stabilise the spine and allow you to have an easier time performing normal daily routines. When doing strengthening exercises, our team of highly dedicated Physiotherapists will guide you through your own specific rehab program within our rehab facility making sure you are guided step by step to ensure a faster recovery.
Phase 3 Restoring your full function
At this stage of your rehabilitation, the main goal is to allow you to safely return to doing your desired activities. Each person has unique treatment goals, and your physiotherapist will help you reach your specific goals at this stage of the treatment.
Phase 4 Preventing the condition from recurring
Sciatica can recur if you receive insufficient rehabilitation, which is why it is important to be diligent in all phases of the treatment plan that your physiotherapist recommended. At this final stage of your rehabilitation, your physiotherapist will instruct you about core control and the use of good body mechanics to ultimately help you achieve your treatment goals.
How is the condition diagnosed?
If you are experiencing a shooting pain or numbness on your legs, you may have to visit your local physiotherapist who will perform some clinical exams and evaluate your symptoms, as well as the pain that you are experiencing.
The diagnosis of sciatica can be simple, but identifying the root cause of the condition may require further tests. Some of the questions that your Physio may ask during a medical visit include the following:
- When did you start feeling the pain on your leg?
- Rate your pain from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest level of pain
- Where exactly does the pain occur? On your lower back? All the way down to your leg? Does the pain stop at the knee area?
Your physiotherapist will perform a physical examination, paying close attention to the spine and legs. During the physical test, make sure to let your physiotherapist know whether the pain extends to the leg and calf.
You will also be tested for muscle weakness, absent reflexes, and any decrease in sensation on the affected areas.
Get professional help!
At Trained Physio and fitness we deal with Sciatica all the time – we’ve helped hundreds of patients overcome the pain they can suffer from Sciatica while also providing them with proven strategies and techniques to prevent re-occurrence. For most, if you’ve suffered Sciatica before then there is a strong chance that it will return which is why it’s critical you identify daily and weekly strategies you can implement to minimise opportunity for any reoccurrence.
If you’re located in Perth then book online today or contact one of our friendly team a call for a chat, we’re happy to help and you’re welcome to come in for a consult, with one of our experienced Physio’s, so we can diagnose your symptoms accurately and then provide you with a treatment plan.