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What is sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain that runs from the low back into the buttock and down the back of the thigh. It may go below the knee and into the foot.
It happens because of a problem in the lower back. That could be an injury, or due to a condition such as arthritis. These cause irritation of the sciatic nerve where it leaves the spine.
The key to effective treatment of sciatica is to understand the underlying causes.
The good news is that, here at Good Health Centre in Leeds, our qualified osteopaths understand sciatica and how it can affect your life. With over 500,000 treatments to our name, the GHC team has plenty of experience in treating sciatica. If you’re suffering, we’re here to help.
What does sciatica feel like?
The main symptom is pain. It starts in the lower back or buttock and runs down the leg.
Sometimes, it goes as far as the back of the thigh. Or it might shoot into the lower leg and foot.
The pain can be a nagging ache, or it might be stabbing or shooting. Some people describe jolts of pain like electric shocks.
As well as pain, you may feel a tingling sensation or numbness, often in the foot.
In more severe cases, there can be weakness, causing difficulty bending your foot upwards at the ankle. You might notice this if you find you keep tripping over your toes.
In very rare cases, people can have sciatic symptoms in both legs, numbness in the genital area, or trouble controlling bladder or bowel that isn’t normal for them. These symptoms can indicate a condition called ‘cauda equina syndrome’. It needs to be treated quickly, so seek urgent medical attention.
What causes sciatica?
The pain, tingling and weakness of sciatica are due to irritation of the sciatic nerve. It’s the body’s largest nerve, which starts in the lower back and runs down each leg to the feet. It provides both feeling and muscle power to the legs and feet.
In most cases, this irritation happens in the lower back. Commonly, one of the spinal discs has become worn or damaged. This can allow it to bulge outwards, pressing on the nearby nerves and causing inflammation.
In other cases, there are bony changes that happen in the spine as part of normal ageing. These changes can narrow the channels through which the nerve passes.
Occasionally, an underlying condition is causing the irritation, such as diabetes, bone fractures or cancer. These are uncommon causes of sciatica. Osteopaths understand these causes and know what to look out for.
How can Osteopaths help??
First, your osteopath will want to understand the root cause of your sciatica. They can usually diagnose the issue in the first session.
Each case of sciatica is unique and is caused by a combination of factors. Osteopaths work holistically, which means they look at the whole body to identify everything that could be contributing to your pain.
These factors could include old injuries or surgery. Or perhaps muscle imbalances or joint problems elsewhere have caused a change in your spine. Perhaps a daily activity or posture is aggravating your symptoms.
Even in cases where there are changes in the structure of the spine, such as arthritis or spinal stenosis, osteopathic treatment can reduce your symptoms and help get you moving. Although osteopaths can’t reverse those changes, they can influence how your body copes with them.
Once they understand you and your sciatica, the osteopath will apply a range of techniques best suited to you. The aim is to reduce pressure on the irritated nerve, settle pain and improve mobility.
Osteopaths can also give you advice on how to manage at home. That might be stretches and exercises, adapting the way you sit or sleep, or avoiding specific activities until your symptoms have settled.
Sciatica Treatment In Leeds:
Click here to find out more about what to expect when you visit one of our osteopaths.
Did you know…
Did you know…
Even when sciatica is caused by bony changes, such as arthritis, osteopathy can get you symptom-free and functioning again.
Did you know…
An osteopathic management plan involves more than just hands-on treatment. An osteopath can support you with advice, self-help tips and exercise plans. This comprehensive approach means the benefits of treatment last long after you’ve left the clinic.
Did you know…
Even though the pain can be severe, it’s very rare that there’s a serious or worrying cause for sciatica.