What exactly is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to an irritation of the sciatic nerve (a nerve that exits at the low back joints, and travels through the gluteal region, back of the thigh and down into the leg). It can present as radiating pain, tingling/numbness, and/or muscle weakness down the leg (usually just one side).
This irritation may arise from:
a) an inflammatory irritation of the nerve
b) direction compression of the nerve. For example: from a disc bulge, spinal canal narrowing, or as it travels past/through a tight muscle
What are the options for Physiotherapy and other management?
Physiotherapy management of sciatica– primary form of conservative management (i.e. non-intrusive management)
Medication – anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injection
Surgery – last-line treatment if symptoms are severe and conservative management has been tried and unsuccessful. (discectomy/laminectomy to remove sections of herniated discs, or bony sections that are pressing on the nerves)
Physiotherapy Management of Sciatica
- Your physiotherapist may recommend use of anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) provided there are no contraindications given medical history/directive by your doctor
- Treatment for nerve irritation, including gentle joint and muscle hands-on treatments.
- Management typically responds well to gentle movements of the low back. Within a comfortable range (this comfortable range can look different for everyone). We can provide this hands-on within the session, and can also teach you any appropriate mobility exercises to perform at home.
- Education around avoiding prolonged sitting or standing. This may include dry needling.
- Taping may be used to help provide some support and de-load areas as relevant
- Exercises focused on engaging core and glute muscles to help deload tight muscles and support the back
- Any other relevant motor control exercises, and how to integrate these into your daily activities (including assessment and modification of the specific activities that are aggravating to you)
If you are experiencing any of the lower back pain symptoms mentioned, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the friendly team of Physiotherapists at Barefoot Physiotherapy. They can help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. You can give us a call on 1300 842 850 or book online.