Sciatica and pain in the SI joint can be debilitating and agonising. With symptoms ranging from discomfort and mild pain, all the way to sharp shooting pain occurring constantly. Today we are going to learn more about Sciatica: What is it and how to treat it.
What is sciatica?
The sciatic nerve starts at the L4 vertebrae near the base of your spine, running through the rest of the vertebrae and exiting at the pelvis. From here it runs along the back of your thigh and into the leg, ending at your foot.
Sciatica is a condition that causes a pain that starts in your lower back and moves down your legs. It is a nerve pain that can also result in pins and needles, tingling and numbness in the leg.
When symptoms develop, it’s best to see your doctor within a few days to get on top of it quickly (if the pain becomes severe, you completely lose feeling in your legs or you lose control of your bladder or bowels, seek immediate medical attention).
What causes it sciatica?
Sciatica occurs when pressure or damage affects the sciatic nerve. While there are a range of causes it’s mostly developed over time rather than as the result of a singular incident. Among all the causes, the more common ones are:
- Obesity, which places excessive pressure on the spine.
- Strain to the spine when repeatedly lifting heavy objects and twisting.
- A bulging or herniated disc.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis.
- Trauma, especially to the lower spine and SI joint.
- Narrowing of the spinal canal due to osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and other degenerative conditions.
If you have experienced any of these conditions it’s worth seeing a doctor to assess your risk of developing Sciatica and taking active steps to prevent it.
How to treat it?
Whether you have mild symptoms of sciatica or a full case, there are a range of things you can do to relieve the pain and discomfort and in some instances completely recover.
Conservative treatment and therapy are ideal for most people, with surgery being an option that should only be considered in severe cases where pain and other symptoms are adversely affecting quality of life.
Here are a few examples of ways to get on top of pain and provide a more secure long-term recovery.
Therapy: Seeking out assistive therapy to treat the symptoms of Sciatica can be highly effective, especially if the primary cause of the condition is known. You can see a physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath or massage therapist to help alleviate the condition.
Combining this therapy with the guided use of anti-inflammatory medication can help you to manage the pain more effectively.
Exercise and stretching: By strengthening and conditioning the muscles with regular targeted exercise, you can help to relieve pain, shorten the recovery time needed and minimise the risk of recurring injury.
The below six exercises help to manage the pain of sciatica (when doing these exercises, start off slow, don’t push yourself. If pain starts to occur stop and take it easy).
Knee to opposite shoulder:
- Lie on your back with legs outstretched and toes pointing up
- Bend your right leg and clasp your hands around the knee
- Gently pull that leg across to your left shoulder, holding it there for 30 seconds (only pull as far as is comfortable. There should be a relieving stretch, not pain)
- Slowly push your knee back to the original position outstretched
- Do this three times then repeat for your left leg
Sitting spinal stretch:
- Sit with your legs outstretched and toes pointed up
- Bend your right knee with the foot flat on the ground next to your other knee
- Placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and gently turn your body to the right
- Hold here for 30 seconds
- Do this three times then repeat with your other side
Standing hamstring stretch:
- Place your foot on a steady surface (like a stool or low table) at or just below your hip level, keeping the leg and toes straight
- Bend forward slightly to the foot (don’t push so far that it causes pain)
- Relax the hip on the side of your raised leg, allowing it to gently lower
- Hold for 30-40 seconds, then repeat on the other side
Reclining pigeon pose:
- While on your back, bring your right leg into a right angle
- Clasp behind the thigh with both hands interlocked
- Lift your left leg and rest that ankle on top of your right knee
- Hold for a moment, then repeat on the other side
(once you are confident and can do this without pain, you can step onto the sitting and forward versions of this Yoga pose)
Wearing supports can help with general back pain, but sciatica is quite specific, so finding the right support is essential to treat it.
To treat sciatica with a brace or support, you need to unload the pelvis and SI joint, which takes pressure off the lower part of the spinal column, relieving inflammation and impingement of the sciatic nerve.
For most cases of Sciatica, the SacroLoc is an excellent support that provides immediate relief for a range of pelvic and hip issues including Sciatica. For more severe cases we recommend the LumboLoc Forte.
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Bauerfeind products are developed at our innovation and manufacturing facility in Zeulenroda, Germany. Based on years of scientific research, our award-winning braces and support garments are highly recommended by medical professionals and athletes worldwide.