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What do you need to know about Sciatica

Recently I have had more clients asking me about stretches to alleviate Sciatic pain. Honestly, I am not surprised considering most of us are working from home sitting long hours working on a computer and often sitting at a dinner table chair instead of a proper office chair.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a term used to describe nerve pain in the leg that is caused by irritation and/or compression of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica originates in the lower back, radiates deep into the buttock, and travels down the leg.

The symptoms of sciatica are commonly felt along the path of the large sciatic nerve and is often characterized by one or more of the following features:

Pain. Sciatica pain is typically felt like a constant burning sensation or a shooting pain starting in the lower back or buttock and radiating down the front or back of the thigh and leg and/or feet.

Numbness. Sciatica pain may be accompanied by numbness in the back of the leg. Sometimes, tingling and/or weakness may also be present.

One-sided symptoms. Sciatica typically affects one leg. The condition often results in a feeling of heaviness in the affected leg. Rarely, both legs may be affected together.

Posture induced symptoms. Sciatica symptoms may feel worse while sitting, trying to stand up, bending the spine forward, twisting the spine, lying down, and/or while coughing. The symptoms may be relieved by walking or applying a heat pack over the rear pelvic region.

So in order to have a Sciatica, either a lumbar intervertebral disc is bulging, the nerve is being irritated by inflammation of a facet joint, a ‘tight’ muscle is compressing the nerve, or some other pathology is underling which is causing you this pain.

Often, a particular event or injury does not cause sciatica—rather it tends to develop over time. Sciatica affects 10% to 40% of the population, typically around the age of 40. Sciatica is found to be common in certain types of occupation.

However, there is another condition which causes pain to be referred down the leg in a similar pattern and does NOT mean you have any structural damage as in most of the above conditions. Trigger points can form in the muscles of the hip and lower back and refer pain down the leg. Trigger points are ‘knots’ in the muscle which become inflamed and highly irritable. They are more often found in weak muscles or muscles that have been ‘overloaded’ and have fatigued. They may also give a sensation of ‘tightness’ of the muscles of the back of the leg. Sometimes people complain of a sensation which is like tingling and numbness but is not quite as severe. This is thought to be the soft tissue called the ‘fascia’ tightening up and causing this strange sensation.

In below video I am showing you some stretches which will help to elevate the pain. Make sure you are breathing correctly throughout, without holding a breath. When you are holding a breath during a stretch you are only use to the discomfort. For muscle to relax it needs oxygen, therefore you need to breathe.

Even if Sciatic pain is not troubling you, those stretches are very good after a long day of sitting or after a long walk.

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