What is the Sciatic Nerve?
The sciatic nerve is a large nerve which runs from the lower spine all the way down the leg and is integral for movement. It plays a major role in many muscles needed for walking, standing and bending such as the hamstrings, adductors, calves and intrinsic foot muscles. It also relays sensory information to the brain, such as heat and pressure.
Hence, a healthy sciatic nerve is integral to a heathy and functional life. However, if the nerve is damaged is can cause pain and severely limit movement, called Sciatica.
How can Sciatica happen?
Due to the many muscles the sciatic nerve reaches, there are several reasons sciatica could occur, including:
- Lower back injury e.g. herniated disc, damaged facet joint
- Bone changes
- Even coughing and sneezing!
These ailments can irritate the nerve through direct contact and excess pressure.
Signs and symptoms:
Initial sciatica pain can present in the lower back, buttock or upper leg. It can feel like a burning sensation, numbness, shooting pain or pins and needles. Pain can range from dull to aching to sporadic sensations, depending on the severity of the damage. You will often also suffer muscle weakness down the back of the leg, making it hard to sit and stand.
However, symptoms of sciatica will be individualised depending on where the damage has occurred and how severe it is. And, though painful, sciatica is rarely permanent.
How will your physiotherapist help manage your sciatica?
To manage sciatica and lower back pain, several factors must be assessed:
- Muscle recruitment (the order of muscle activation)
- Lower back, core, glutes, hip and back muscle strength
Having a strong core is integral for managing lower back pain. The wrapping structure of the abdominal region increases the strength and stiffness of that area, taking pressure off the back. There are multiple ways to reduce back pain at home or with your physio.
Your physiotherapist is the best person to talk to for individualised exercises and management to get on top of sciatica. So, whether you want to learn more of are experiencing symptoms, book an appointment with one of our friendly Pivotal Motion Physiotherapists today!