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Sciatica : Treatment For Sciatica. What Is Sciatica?

Info Relinque - Sunday, May 06, 2012
Find the best treatment approach for relief of sciatic nerve pain.

Sciatica is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms including pain, tingling, pins and needles, numbness and weakness, that are felt in your lower back, buttock, and various parts of your leg. Symptoms are generally felt only in one leg.

Sciatica is caused by compression or irritation of one or more of the 5 nerve roots that make up your sciatic nerve - a very large nerve that originates in your lower back and runs all the way down to your foot.

It must be made clear that sciatica is not a diagnosis, but rather a description for a set of symptoms that occur with lower back injuries. This a very important point, because the treatment for the different causes of sciatic pain can vary considerably. A successful treatment approach for one cause of sciatic pain may aggravate the symptoms of another cause.

What Causes Sciatica?

True sciatic pain arises from compression or irritation of one or more of the 5 nerve roots that make up your sciatic nerve. Common causes are:

-Disc bulge or disc prolapse
-Vertebral misalignment or enlargement
-Disc degeneration
-Spinal stenosis

Sciatic pain occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 30-50 years old, after a lifting event that involves rotation. Bending with rotation stresses the intervertebral disc and may cause the soft inner part of the disc to herniate through the tougher outer section, causing pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Pseudo Sciatic pain is the most common cause for referred pain into your lower back, hips and legs. It causes similar symptoms to sciatic pain. Common causes are:

-Myofascial trigger points
-Lumbar joint sprain
-Piriformis syndrome

Myofascial trigger points occur most commonly as a result of musculoskeletal strains and sprains resulting from poor posture and incorrect lifting techniques. 

Diagnosis of Sciatica

Correct diagnosis of lower back pain that refers into your leg is essential, as simple myofascial trigger points can present similarly to the early stages of a disc bulge. This is a very important point, because if a disc bulge is treated as a benign joint sprain it may have serious and lasting consequences. 

If a case history and physical examination reveals radiating pain into the leg, with any neurological involvement, sciatic can be suspected. Further imaging with a CT scan or MRI is then indicated to determine the level and extent of the injury.

Treatment for Relief of Sciatica

Around 90% of cases of sciatic pain that occurs as a result of a disc bulge or herniation resolve with no surgical intervention. Correct advice and treatment in the early stages of any lower back injury is vital to establish an appropriate plan for your recovery.

The following treatment approach is one we follow at Relinque health centre. 

Rest: Essential in the very early stages. Prolonged rest however, is no longer recommended, as it may increase recovery time.
Ice: Can provide good relief throughout the entire healing process, as it helps control the inflammation.
Heat: Is generally recommended once the acute pain has settled. Can be very effective in easing tight and aching muscles.
Medication: NSAIDS and Analgesics can control pain and inflammation in the early stages of the injury.
Massage and Manipulation: Effective in reducing muscle spasm, and increasing movement in stiff and aching joints.
Strengthening core and lower back: An essential part of the recovery process is strengthening your core and lower back muscles. Not only does it assist in recovery time, it also helps prevent further injury. Walking and gentle strengthening exercises are recommended once the acute symptoms have settled down.
Surgical intervention: Depends on many factors, including the overall condition and health of your spine, as well as the intensity and duration of your symptoms.

Sciatica is not a diagnosis for life. Up to 90% of all cases recover without surgical intervention. With proper advice and treatment symptoms can be managed very effectively.

Contact Relinque Osteopathy in Melbourne for Sciatic Pain Relief

If you have any questions regarding Sciatica, please call one of the Osteopaths at Relinque health centre.

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