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What Is Sciatica?

On to sciatica, this is a very common symptom that can occur as a result of an injury in the lower back. There are many common misconceptions we’re going to address in this article. Many people experience sciatica, but don’t understand that there is an underlying cause behind this – finding out this cause is crucial to resolving the problem. Additionally, many people think that sciatica can be addressed by applying a treatment to the area they’re experiencing pain, usually on the legs. However, without addressing the back, any relief is likely to be short lived. Furthermore, many people also associate piriformis syndrome with sciatica, we’ll be going more into depth on that later.

Why Does Sciatica Occur

We’ll firstly discuss why sciatica occurs. We’ve stipulated it’s not a leg problem, so where exactly does it occur and why? When the spine is under load, having nice natural curves in the spine can help it to appropriately distribute this weight. When we talk about the spine being ‘under load’, we’re referring to when you’re performing any activity and your spine is bearing the load of your bodyweight. This means anything from simply standing, sitting, running etc., all these activities are subjecting your spine to load that is under a gravitational pull downwards.

When your curve deviates from normal, usually through persistently adopting poor posture as your ligaments loosen from this behaviour, this makes your spine less able to deal with the weight placed on it. This can lead to increased pressure on discs in susceptible areas, which is why a lot of people experience spine problems in the lower back at the L4-5 and L5-S1 level, and runs down the back of both legs, down into the feet. If you start to undergo increased compression in your lower back, the nerve can become compressed which radiates pain down, usually into the buttocks, down the back of either leg (sometimes it will alternate between the left and the right leg), or into the legs. It’s also very common for you to experience not just pain, but sensations such as pins and needles, burning, tingling or weakness into the area.

Is Sciatica Caused By Piriformis Syndrome?

We often see or hear from people who are experiencing sciatica and have had it been attributed to piriformis syndrome. We do find this to be less likely the case, and don’t personally believe it to be the reason people experience sciatic pain. It’s very common to experience muscle spasm in the piriformis muscle, which is located in the hips, when you have sciatica. This is why we generally look towards the root of the problem being in the spine than in a muscle. It’s likely that it’s often attributed to sciatica because many people experience the nerve pain in the legs but don’t actually feel any pain or discomfort in the spine, this can make it difficult to believe that the spine is actually the problem!

 

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Understanding The Problem

This leads nicely on to our next point, which is to make sure that you fully understand the type of problem that you have, so that you can find the most appropriate person to help you. We’ve heard from people in the past who have come away from a doctors appointment shaken up because they’ve been told that they have a lordosis. A lordosis is simply a word that describes the natural curve in the lower back. Where you have issues commonly is when that lordosis becomes a hyperlordosis or hypolordosis, as this can mean a more swayback or flatter curve, respectively. Equally, we do have people often contact us who are not sure what exactly their problem is or haven’t understood exactly what it is that’s the problem. We understand that often medical terms that are often put in these medical reports and spoken by doctors can be very confusing, so do make sure you ask them to clarify if that becomes a barrier to your understanding of the problem. If you haven’t had a thorough diagnosis, do take a look at our website to understand exactly how we undertake our examinations. Our thorough process of examination is one of the contributing factors behind our recent win of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation, as we examine to understand the underlying cause of the problem and address it, rather than simply treating the pain. If you are reading this while we’re currently still in lockdown, do make sure to check out our free membership area, as there’s lots of helpful advice, stretches and exercises here to help you relieve your pain at home.

How To Treat Sciatica At Home

Being wary of the positions you’re putting your spine in on a day-to-day basis is going to be crucial to recovering long-term from sciatica, alongside a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Knowing the kind of stretches and exercises you need to be doing at home, as well as things you can do to relieve the pressure on your spine and reduce inflammation. We have all the step-by-step rehabilitation you need on our membership area at www.backinshapeapp.com, so do make sure to go check this out. In your day-to-day, make sure that you sitting at your desk with good posture, meaning that your back is straight, you have that natural curve in your lower back preserved and your head is above the shoulders. A lot of people tend to lean forwards towards the computer or, worse, work in bed or on the sofa, which can cause you to round the spine as you slouch. This can seem to be comfortable at the time, but when you go to adopt normal posture again or stand up, you might well experience sharp pain again back into the buttocks or legs. So be very wary of your posture.

Furthermore, if you’re guilty of taking a hot bath or shower to relieve the pain, try using ice instead. You may feel slightly stiffer or dislike the cold, but ice is going to be much more effective in the long-term for relieving inflammation and pain. Make sure to do this a few times a day for no more than 5 minutes at a time, with the ice placed directly onto the spine in the middle of the lower back!

If you’re struggling with your sciatica and you’re not sure what you can do, make sure to check out our live streams that we’re running on weekdays on our Facebook and YouTube channels. On these streams you can ask us questions that our lead practitioner, Michael Fatica, can answer for you! If you have a topic in mind you’d like us to cover, please do get in touch and we’d be more than happy to help.

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