Sciatica is typically used to describe pain, numbness or tingling down one leg, potentially as far as into the foot. For many the effects from the symptoms of sciatic pain on the quality of their life is considerable, making everyday a battle. Yet, it doesn't have to be.
Sciatica occurs when the nerve roots comprising the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed, the cause of which is commonly thought to be due to a disc bulge or herniation, or a bone spur (bone growth of the spinal vertebrae). Sometimes an MRI scan will show this degeneration and the conclusion is that this is the cause of the sciatica. However, in plenty of cases the degeneration doesn't exist, or it can also be seen in people without sciatic or other lower back pain, so is not always as simple as 2+2=4. Also, the results found can be down to interpretation, with different radiologists reading the MRI, X-Ray, or CT scan results in different ways. There are times of course when surgical intervention is required, but these are a small number of cases.
As the sciatic nerve runs through a number of powerful muscles, the pinching or compression of the sciatic nerve can, and often is, due to muscular tension. If the muscle is unduly tight it can pinch or compress the sciatic nerve. A bit like standing on a hose pipe and stemming the flow of water. Two major muscles that can be at cause here are the Hamstrings and the Gluteal muscles (the muscles of the buttocks). Some people find sitting can make their sciatica worse, which can point to a gluteal issue, as sitting places further pressure on this muscle and also the sciatic nerve. Hence, there are a lot of sciatica self help exercises that use something like a tennis ball to work into the gluteal muscles. Easy right, but then why doesn't the sciatica disappear, surely the muscle aren't always tense? Well, they are if there is another issue at play...
A structural (physical) mis-alignment of the body effectively means that one leg will be shorter than the other, and the tensional implications of this are huge. I've covered this particular occurrence, which I see in almost all my new clients, in another blog that you can read here. Try standing and walking with just one shoe on, and pay attention to how that feels throughout your body - you'll soon start to notice tension. Take the shoe off again and everything feels better and that tension created by the imbalance subsides. Correct the structural imbalance in the body, and the tensional strain disappears, and with it the compression or pinching of the sciatic nerve.
This structural dysfunction is often overlooked, and yet with the right therapy can be quite straightforward to correct, allowing the body to balance, be structurally sound, and free from tension and dysfunction.
That being said, if you are concerned, or if your symptoms are intense and unrelenting radiating pain with muscle weakness, bladder or bowel control problems, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
For most people however, removing the tensional pulls that you are not even aware you have as you've lived with them for so long, will reduce the dysfunction and imbalance, and could provide the relief you are looking for.
If you'd like to find out more about this non-manipulative, effective therapy, or book an appointment, get in touch today.