Sciatica and Back Pain

Sciatica is not a condition in itself but rather a symptom that can arise due to a variety of problems associated with the spine and/or pelvis.Symptoms may be constant or intermittent and increase/decrease  depending on activities or time of day.

Sciatica is usually felt in one leg at a time, and can range from a dull ache to an incapacitating pain, or your could feel symptoms such asparasthaesia (pins and needles) or numbness and sometimes weakness.

If you have symptoms such as saddle anaesthesia (numbness / lack of feeling to your bottom / seat), lack of control over bladder or bowel(inability or difficulty to urinating, incontinence, constipation) or weakness in the lower extremities and loss of sensations, contact your GP immediately or go to A & E as soon as possible.

Sciatica can arise from a disc prolapse “slipped disc”, or through stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal or more commonly by stenosis to one of the intervertebral foramen of the lumbar spine. This narrowing of the intervertebral foremen can then put pressure onto one of the spinal nerves resulting in sciatica.

Prolapsed discs can be treated effectively, when diagnosed correctly in their early stages, with appropriate exercise and most importantly with education. Education in which exercises to do but more importantly in which positions and movements to avoid until the prolapse has been resolved. Once the prolapse has been resolved and the symptoms relieved it is then advisable to treat the underlying problem that led to the condition arising in the first place. Disc prolapses, if left untreated can lead to a disc herniation (tear in the outer, fibrous ring of an intervertebral disc) which are much more difficult to treat and may requires surgery.

Stenosis of the spinalcanal can be congenital but more usually arises through degenerative changes such as osteophyte formation (bone spurs or “lipping”) on the vertebral bodies or spondylolisthesis(the forward displacement of a vertebra,commonly the forth lumbar vertebra).

Stenosis of an intervertebral foremen causing temporary compression of a spinal nerve is probably the most common cause of sciatic pain / symptoms.

This problem can arise at almost any age through restriction of movement, to one or more facet joints, through muscle spasm. However, there will undoubtedly be other contributory factors. These factors may include poor posture. Wear and tear, which is usually a result of the natural ageing process, restriction in movement to the pelvic joints, which often cause leg length discrepancies and almost universally stiffness along the length of the spine.

It is the ability to successfully address the problem of spinal stiffness, through the use of Theraflex, that allows the BackCare Clinic to give fast and effective treatment, which has brought relief to many people who have tried other methods without success. Because surgery for spinal stenosis is usually extensive, it is best to explore these less aggressive treatment options before resorting to this.

Mild to moderate sciatica will usually respond well to treatment with relief from pain achieved with 3-4 visits.

Severe or persistent sciatica can also respond well to treatment. Relief from pain may take a little longer but you should see significant improvement within 3-4 treatments. If there is no improvement withinthis period, or pain increases with no apparent reason, it may be advisable to revere you for MRI scanning to diagnose the extent of the problem.

Sciatica can occur during pregnancy due to the altered mechanics of the pelvis and lower back as the baby grows and develops. This can usually be treated gently and safely at the BackCare Clinic using a combination of Muscle Energy Therapy (MET) and CranialSacral Therapy.