What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a set of symptoms not a diagnosis. It refers to pain, weakness, numbness, tingling or pins and needles sensations in the leg that is caused by the compression of one of the spinal nerve roots from L4 to S2 segments of the lower back and pelvis that contribute to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve starts in the back and travels into the back of the leg. Typically pain is on one side only and can be felt in the lower back, buttocks and the back of the leg, parts of the lower leg and foot. It usually has a slow onset, is worse at night, increases with sneezing coughing or laughing, back bending, moving from sitting to standing and can be aggravated by walking. It is a sign of an underlying problem and needs to be properly assessed by a physiotherapist to identify the correct course of treatment and rule out any serious underlying pathology.

Compression of the sciatic nerve can be caused due to damage to:

– the vertebral disc which leads to it pressing against the nerve,

– trauma to the back or pelvis,

– lumbar stenosis which is a narrowing of the spinal canal through which the spinal cord runs.

True sciatic pain is often confused with psuedosciatica which is pain referred into the lower back, buttocks and upper legs from the facet joints which are the joints between the vertebrae of the back or as a result of tension in the piriformis or other related muscles. The latter is often referred to as piriformis syndrome.

Depending on the underlying cause and providing the diagnosis is accurate a full recovery can usually be expected

For a physiotherapist in Poole, come down and see one of our practitioners at Lilliput Health.

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