© 2003 Andrew Thompson
In general terms, Sciatica is a condition caused by impingement of the Sciatic Nerve, which travels from the lower spine down the back of both legs.
Pain is usually located on one side of the body, and can cause a tingling or burning sensation, or in more severe cases, stabbing pains down the leg which may even restrict movement. While the condition is not considered life threatening, it can lead to other serious problems.
If you have any of these symptoms combined with incontinence, diarrhoea, or progressive weakening of the legs, you should see your GP immediately, as you may have cauda equina syndrome.
There are two common forms of Sciatica
Sciatica, or True Sciatica, is caused by the herniation or movement of the intervertebral disk through which the nerve passes. It can be caused by incorrect lifting or turning, or lengthy periods of little exercise causing misshapen or misaligned disks.
True Sciatica can often be treated with physical therapy, core strengthening exercises, stretching, yoga, or Pilates. In more extreme cases where the disk is beyond repair, spinal fusion may be necessary.
Pseudo Sciatica, or False Sciatica, is a general term which includes Piriformis Syndrome, and is quite common.
Pseudo Sciatica can be caused by shortening of the nerve through an inactive lifestyle (adaptive shortening), of severe cramping of the lower back and gluteal muscles. The symptoms are often just as intense as True Sciatica, however the treatment is less invasive.
A Massage Therapist will provide some degree of relief, depending on the age of the problem and the intensity of the cramp. Three or more follow up treatments are usually necessary. S/he will also be able to identify whether you need to be referred to a Physiotherapist to undertake neural stretching exercises.
Arguably though, the best form of treatment for Pseudo Sciatica is Acupressure, especially if the symptoms are due to deep muscular cramping as is usually the case. The gluteal muscles respond extremely well to this kind of therapy.
The important thing to realise is that Sciatica is treatable, and the sooner that you seek treatment, the better the outcome will be.
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Have a brilliant day,