What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain, weakness, numbness, and pins and needles in the buttocks and down the leg. The main causes are irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is one of the major nerves of the lower limb. It originates on either side of the lower spine, runs through the buttocks, down into the back of the leg and into the foot. This is why symptoms often refer down the leg.
Sciatica is a symptom, not a diagnosis; therefore anything that irritates the nerve will cause pain, weakness or tingling or a combination of symptoms. The most common areas for sciatic nerve irritation are:
- Lower Back: through disc bulges, vertebral degeneration and joint abnormalities.
- Glutes (the buttocks): Tight or overactive muscles can compress the nerve.
These symptoms can also be caused by external forces, such as sitting with a wallet in your back pocket or performing an awkward stretch.
Physiotherapy and Sciatica
Physiotherapy aims at treating the underlying cause, as well as the symptoms. This commonly includes:
- pain management
- joint mobility
- nerve mobility
- muscle & soft tissue release
- rehabilitation to correct muscle imbalances.