As an Oseopath in Southend Sciatica is a problem that I frequently come across. Sciatica literally means pain down the distribution of the sciatic nerve. This runs from the lower back, through the buttock, down the back of the leg to the foot and supplies sensation and muscle control to the lower leg, foot and back of the thigh and sciatica is pain over this area.
There are several causes of sciatica but most are connected to musculo-skeletal problems in the lower back or buttock. The sciatic nerve has its origins from the fourth and fifth lumbar and first and second sacral nerve roots, this means that it is at risk of irritation from two of the most commonly injured levels of the spine.
Pressure on the root of the nerve at its exit from the spine, will cause inflammation and pain that is interpreted by the body as pain arising from the areas supplied by the nerve whose roots are affected. This applies everywhere in the spine but in sciatica it involves the fourth and fifth lumbar intervertebral joints giving rise to the pattern of pain described above.
Causes of Sciatica
Probably the commonest cause of true sciatica is a slipped disc at the fourth or fifth lumbar intervertebral joints, here the protruding portion disc rubs on the nerve root. Frequently this is exacerbated by local muscle spasm and intervertebral joint restriction preventing the joint from moving to reduce the pressure on the nerve root.
Osteopathic treatment frequently helps patients with sciatica by encouraging the movement at the affected level and reducing muscle spasm thereby reducing the pressure on the nerve root and the pain. Once the pressure has been relieved and the inflammation and pain subsides, healing takes place and the disc protrusion will shrivel to some extent. This means that in the immediate future the pain has disappeared. The patient still has a slipped disc but if it is not causing symptoms then it can be ignored.
Unfortunately if the intervertebral level is injured again the protrusion can be pushed back onto the nerve root. In this sort of case, depending on how frequent an occurrence this is and how severe the symptoms it may be sensible to seek a surgical opinion.
Sciatica – Common Misconceptions
Many things are diagnosed as sciatica which are not and there are several examples of lesser pain into the leg which can be diagnosed as sciatica but are not due to disc lesions. Spasm in the buttock muscles can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve as it passes through the buttock and this normally is easily relieved with osteopathic treatment.
Therefore if somebody tells you that you have sciatica the first question is why as sciatica itself is a symptom pattern not a condition. If you are having trouble with Sciatica call our Southend clinic on 01702 348221 for free, friendly advice.