How Osteopathy can help with your Sciatica

Dr Amanda Pike
Osteopathy
Sciatica is a condition that can lead to pain in the lower back and legs.

What is sciatica ?

Sciatica is a condition that can lead to pain in the lower back and legs. It can feel like a dull ache and can sometimes cause sharp pain into your legs and lower back. Sciatica is commonly misdiagnosed as ‘Piriformis Syndrome’ where the piriformis muscle impinges the sciatic nerve as it passes underneath. It is quite rare to have pure Sciatica, it is often part of a more complex diagnosis.

The sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest spinal nerve in the body. It and its branches supply the majority of the lower limb.

Originating in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine, it then travels down the buttocks and posterior thigh to branch off and supply the thigh, knee, lower leg and foot.

Why does it cause pain?

There are a number of different reasons for the sciatic nerve to start giving you trouble.

But it generally comes down to compression of the nerve. For example, when there is a herniated disc, a bone spur on the vertebrae or narrowing of the spinal column. It can also get compressed a little lower down the nerve when it passes underneath the gluteal muscles. When the deep muscles in our buttocks get tight they can put pressure on the nerve.

It may feel horrible and unrelenting but there is plenty you can do to help relieve it!

How to relieve it.  

  1. Get in to see your Osteo for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Given the complexity of the issue you need a tailored treatment plan based on your specific physiology and condition. Your osteopath will likely use deep tissue massage, joint mobilisation and maybe even some dry needling to help relieve your pain.
  2. Massage ball - get cozy with that unforgiving round ball that you never want to get out. Against the wall is the best, apply as much pressure as you can tolerate to release out those tight buttocks.
  3. Gentle stretching - I say gentle because too strong a stretch can irritate the nerve. So take a seat on a chair, put one foot on the opposite knee and then lean forward over your legs. Feel the stretch through the back of the hip
  4. Neural floss - Sitting on a hard surface with your legs hanging over the edge, slump your upper body forward. From here you are going to extend one leg at a time and as you do that, lift your head to look at the roof. Return to the slumped position and repeat. Then swap legs.
  5. Keep active - It used to be thought that back pain was improved by bed rest. Studies have since shown that movement is the key to recovery. So don’t hop into bed thinking you’ll get better faster, keep moving, even if it is slowly. Walking in a hydrotherapy pool is one of the best ways to do this with as little pain as possible.
  6. Activate your glutes - using a pillow underneath your hips to prop you up slightly, lie on your stomach and focus on squeezing one butt cheek at a time. Squeeze the glute, and then lift that leg, lower down and relax. Do both sides and roughly 10 repetitions each side.
  7. Back plank - grab a pillow and lie face down on the floor with the pillow underneath your hips and lower abdomen. Lift both arms and legs just off the floor and hover for 30 seconds. This engages your deep spinal muscles and allows them to stabilise your lower back.
  8. Bridges - Lying on your back, bend your knees so your feet are close to your buttocks. Squeeze your glutes, roll up through your hips and then lift your back up, roll back down and relax. Repeat 3x10

How do I keep it at bay?

Keep your back strong, body mobile and glutes loose.

Regular osteo treatments can certainly help keep the area at it’s best.

Stay active! The back can get very weak and stiff when you are inactive so the best way to stay clear of aches and pains is to move. It can be walking, on land or in the water, swimming, pilates or yoga.

Release work with the massage ball or foam roller and stretching a few times a week is also a really easy way to keep problems away.

If you have any questions about the information provided please send us an email at info@ensoosteo.com.au, or you can book online to make a time to come and see us.

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