Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a physical condition which can cause severe pain in the back, hip and legs. It is named after the sciatica nerve along which the pain travels. The sciatica nerve begins in the lower spine, extends down to the hip and buttocks and along the back of the leg to the foot.
Sciatica is quite a common condition with over 500,000 cases per year in Australia. It is more common among 18-35-year-olds and among men.
The pain associated with sciatica reflects the path of the sciatic nerve. Hence the most common symptom of sciatica is a constant pain in one side that starts from the lower back or buttock and travels down the leg. Other symptoms include:
• Lower back pain
• Leg pain associated with the inner side of the thigh
• Pain and difficulty moving the leg
• Pain in the hip and outer side of the leg which extends from the back
• Increased pain when sitting
Many causes for sciatica relate to problems with the spine, whether through injury or gradual changes such as the development of bone spurs or narrowing of the spinal canal. These changes may be the result of ageing or obesity. Physically demanding jobs that involve lifting heavy loads can lead to sciatica, as can sitting for long periods of time or diabetes. The tightening or swelling of buttock muscles may also lead to sciatica.
Most cases of sciatica will go away in time either on their own or with treatment, which ranges from pain relief medicines and rest to the need for specialist back care education and physical therapies under the direction of a chiropractor or physiotherapist. Some cases can last for several months and may require surgery.
Chiropractors regularly develop treatment plans for patients with sciatica which may involve therapies such as ice/cold therapy (to reduce inflammation and control sciatic pain), ultrasounds (to increase blood circulation), TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and spinal manipulation to reduce nerve irritability.
If you’re in Perth and suffering from sciatica symptoms, please consult with one of our chiropractic specialists to tailor a treatment plan for you.