What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a common condition that affects the sciatic nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower back down through the buttocks and into the legs.
Symptoms of sciatica can include pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. The pain can range from mild to severe and can be constant or intermittent.
Sciatica can also be caused by a herniated disc or bone spur in the lower back, which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.
What causes sciatica?
There are many activities that can lead to sciatica, including:
- Prolonged sitting: Spending long periods of time sitting, whether at a desk, in a car, or on the couch, can put added pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can cause the nerve to become inflamed and lead to sciatica symptoms.
- Heavy lifting: Lifting heavy objects, especially if done improperly, can put strain on the lower back and lead to sciatica. It’s important to use good lifting techniques and avoid lifting objects that are too heavy for you.
- Overtraining: Doing too much exercise particularly involving lifting, jumping or sprinting can cause sciatica
- Poor sleep and high stress: These can both contribute indirectly to getting sciatica.
- Sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle, without regular exercise or physical activity, can lead to weak muscles in the lower back and increased risk of sciatica.
Who does it affect?
In general, sciatica is more likely to affect people in their 40s and 50s, but it can occur at any age. It is important for people of all ages to take care of their spines and engage in activities that promote good spinal health.
How does it affect you?
Sciatica can make it difficult to perform daily activities such as walking, standing, and sitting. It can also make it difficult to sleep, which can lead to fatigue and irritability.
Those with sciatica may also have difficulty participating in physical activities, such as exercise, sports, and leisure activities.
This can lead to a decrease in physical fitness and overall health.
Additionally, sciatica can impact one’s ability to work and earn a living. It can cause missed work days and a decrease in productivity, leading to financial stress.
Sciatica can also cause emotional distress and anxiety due to the chronic pain and discomfort it causes. It can lead to a decrease in overall quality of life and a negative impact on relationships and social interactions.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can help to alleviate the symptoms of sciatica.
Physiotherapists are trained to assess and diagnose the cause of sciatica and to develop a personalised treatment plan to address the underlying issue.
One of the treatment options that we use may use to treat sciatica is shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses sound waves to stimulate the healing of damaged tissues. It has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving function in people with sciatica.
During shockwave therapy, the physiotherapist will use a device to deliver the sound waves to the affected area. The sound waves will cause a small amount of discomfort, but the treatment is generally well-tolerated. The number of treatments required will depend on the severity of the condition, but most people will require 3-5 sessions to experience a significant improvement in their symptoms.
In addition to shockwave therapy, physiotherapists may also use other techniques to treat sciatica. These may include exercises to strengthen the muscles in the affected area, stretches to improve flexibility, and massage to relieve muscle tension.
This is an account of one of our past patients who saw us for a bout of sciatica earlier this year:
“I remember the first time I experienced sciatica. It was a sharp, shooting pain down my right leg that made it difficult to move or even walk. I couldn’t sit for long periods of time without feeling a constant throbbing pain. It was immensely frustrating and debilitating.
I decided to seek out the help of a physiotherapist at Instant Physio. After my initial assessment, they recommended a series of exercises to help alleviate the pain and improve my mobility. These exercises focused on strengthening my core muscles, which in turn helped to support my spine and reduce the pressure on my sciatic nerve.
Over the course of several weeks, I began to see improvements. The pain gradually subsided and I was able to move around with more ease. I also noticed that I could sit for longer periods of time without feeling discomfort.
In addition to the exercises, they also taught me some stretching and relaxation techniques to help manage the pain and prevent it from coming back. These techniques have been incredibly helpful in maintaining my overall health and well-being.
I am grateful to have received physiotherapy treatment for my sciatica. It has truly made a significant difference in my recovery and has allowed me to get back to hiking and being generally active again.”
Overall, physiotherapy treatment can be an effective way to manage the symptoms of sciatica and to help people with the condition return to their normal activities.
If you are experiencing symptoms of sciatica, give us a call and we can develop a personalised treatment plan that is right for you.