What is it?

Sciatica is a term used to describe a set of symptoms caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve or its nerve roots from the back.

The sciatic nerve originates from the lower back all the way and travels through the buttock and down the back of the leg.

Pain is caused by a combination of pressure and inflammation on the nerve root which radiates pain down the posterior leg.

Causes

  • Glute tightness
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Herniated disc
  • Poor posture or prolonged sitting
  • Poor lifting technique
  • Common in pregnancy

Symptoms

  • Radiating pain through the buttock, down the back of the leg –usually one sided but both can be affected
  • Sharp or electric pain
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Weakness
  • Can range from infrequent and irritating to severe and debilitating
  • Symptoms are often made worse by bending, sitting, lifting, sneezing or coughing

How is it diagnosed?

A thorough clinical examination by a physiotherapist will most commonly diagnose the condition. An x-ray or MRI may be recommended in some cases.

Treatment Options

Focus on removing pressure on the sciatic nerve

  • Spinal mobilisations, Muscular release/trigger point, acupuncture and dry needling
  • Stretching and trigger point release
  • Posture and lifting technique modifications
  • Core strengthening

Prognosis

It is rare that permanent nerve damage results. The timeframe will vary depending on how severe your pain is and how long you have had it for, however typically it can resolve between 6-12 weeks but may take up to 6 months for severe cases.

Exercises

  1. Self Trigger Point
  2. Sciatic nerve floss
  3. Cobra
  4. Glute stretch
  5. TA activation + progressions