For some people the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating whilst for others, it might be infrequent and irritating. Usually sciatica only affects one leg. The pain can begin in the low back, spread down the back of the thigh, down through the leg and may radiate into the foot and toes.
Sciatica describes pain felt along the course of the sciatica nerve. The sciatic nerve is made up of five nerve roots that leave the spinal column through small foramen (tunnels) in the lumbar spine. These nerve roots join together in the pelvis to form the sciatic nerve. The nerve runs through the buttock, down the back of the leg to supply the muscles and joints of the thigh, knee, calf, ankle, foot and toes. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and can be irritated anywhere along its course. Because of this, the symptoms can be varied and it is not surprising that sciatica sufferers experience pain at several locations along the nerve path.
It is important to remember that the sciatic nerve is made up from 5 nerves, any of which can be trapped individually and cause slightly different symptoms. It is possible to trap a nerve any where through your spine.
Sciatica may cause:
Nerve sensations such as aching pain, sharp shooting pains down the leg (making it difficult to stand up), pins and needles or numbness.
Weakness or difficulty moving the leg or foot.
Low back pain may be present along with the leg pain.
At the OHC our osteopaths are trained to do a full Neurological assessment to find out where and why the nerve has been damaged/trapped. We use Soft tissue techniques, joint stretches and mobilizations to reduce the pressure on the nerve and reduce the pain and symptoms.
In some cases, your Osteopath may refer you back to your GP for further investigations to ensure you are receiving the correct treatment for you.