The Sciatic Nerve in the lower back and butt gets a bad rap - and for good reason. I know exactly why you’re on this page: you’ve been experiencing sharp, nervy pains in your lower back, hip and buttocks and it’s a) uncomfortable and b) stopping you from doing the fun physical things you love. Sciatica can really mess with your life. It is a real pain in the butt. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you manage and get rid of this annoying pain once and for all.
What is “Sciatica” and why is it ruining my life!?
Sciatica refers to any pain or discomfort around the sciatic nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back, passes through your buttock and back of the hip, and runs down the back of your thigh. The best way to think of “sciatica” is as an overarching term that generally refers to back and leg pain and/or altered sensation that is primarily driven by the sciatic nerve.
What causes Sciatica?
Like most things in the human body, there’s a few things that cause this pain:
- The vast majority of sciatica is caused by problems with your spinal joints or disc problems in your lumbar spine (lower back) that can lead to inflammation around your nerve. [Link to disc problems]
- Tight gluteal muscles (your buttock) that puts compression on your sciatic nerve where it passes through different layers of the muscles of your butt.
So what you may have done to be getting this problem is any of the following things:
- Repetitive bending and lifting without the right support or technique
- Putting your lower back through undue stress, like sitting too long, pushing too far in yoga or other sports, or generally stretching the sciatic nerve beyond its limits.
- every day normal movements, that over time cause little irritations around the sciatic nerve – this is especially likely as your get older.
How will we treat your pain and fix the underlying condition at Fixio?
Here’s what will happen during your first appointment.
Our initial 60-minute appointment will be split into three parts. First, we’ll have a chat about how your sciatic pain occurred and how it’s been affecting your day to day life. We’ll ask questions about the movements that make your pain feel worse, what makes it feel better, and also check that’s there’s no other underlying issues that we should also be dealing with.
Next we’ll move onto some specific physio tests that will look at your back and hip movements. We might ask you to do some simple movements like bending forward to touch your toes and arching your back. We will definitely look at putting tension on the sciatic nerve to see if that produces your discomfort, or manual tests like pushing (gently) on your lower back. Then, we’ll begin treatment right away, and start discussing an ongoing treatment plan that is manageable for you, and tailored to your needs.
How does physiotherapy help?
For Sciatic pain, we focus on three key aspects of treatment: reducing your pain, taking all of the pressure off of your sciatic nerve and then strengthening your lower back and buttocks so that we can prevent this from reoccurring.
The first aspect is to help settle your pain and discomfort whilst maintaining your range of movement. We do this by using manual therapies such as massage, spinal mobilisation, dry needling, taping, heat or ice. We may also start you on simple exercises to maintain your range of motion in your back. The next part of treatment will focus on reducing stress on the sciatic nerve in your everyday life, for example if you work at a computer and tend to sit hunched over for long periods of time this will put unneeded tension on your sciatic nerve. We will come up with strategies together to counteract this so you’re not constantly reaggravate the nerve.
After the pain is beginning to settle, we will look at progressing your exercise program, because strengthening is what prevents recurrence. We’ll focus on exercises tailored to your individual goals. For instance, if you want to return to playing netball or football, our exercises may focus around a return to run program, lateral movement, jumping and landing whilst maintaining correct muscle activation in your core and lower back.
From easing your pain to getting you back onto your feet and doing the things you love best; we’ve got your back (literally). Come in and see us at Fixio to get your sciatic nerve pain sorted.