How To Fix Sciatica

Tim Leeming

4 min read

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Sciatica can be a very debilitating condition and is often misunderstood. 

Many patients who come to us for help think that they have sciatica when they describe a lower back pain or ache in their buttocks or glute region.  Sometimes the patient might say it radiates out from their hip area, across the lower back or into their side or flank. 

While these symptoms are all undoubtedly very disheartening and uncomfortable, they are not a description of true sciatica.

Sciatica is classically a condition categorised by nerve pain and symptoms that travel down a leg, generally past the knee and into the calf muscle or further down to the foot.  The nerve symptoms will commonly be one or a few of sharp pain, aching, numb, tingling or pins and needles.  This can happen with or without an accompanying pain in the lower back.

If the symptoms do not travel all the way down the leg, it is generally not a diagnosis of sciatica… it is something else!

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body – it’s like a thick broadband cable made up of multiple smaller nerves coming from your spine.  It’s also the only nerve to travel through a muscle belly – it descends through the piriformis which is a muscle that makes up part of your buttocks and helps to move the hip joint.  Because of its unique characteristics and its length, there are many areas in the lower spine and pelvis region where the sciatic nerve can become irritated, and its path interrupted by undue pressure.

Despite this complexity, there are some simple and harmless things you can do to alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve and relieve your symptoms.

So how can you fix your sciatica?  (If that’s really what’s going on…)

  1. Self-myofascial release around the lower back, hips and glutes can help to decrease soft tissue tension and create more space and ease for the sciatic nerve on its pathway down the leg.  Simply, you can use a foam roller and/or firm ball to roll over tight spots for one to three minutes per day.  Find a niggly area (this may be exquisitely tender to start with) and breathe deeply as you focus rolling on that tight point.  There will likely be many tight points initially – just focus on two or three spots per session.  You can do this daily.  Over several days, tight spots might start to fade and hopefully so will your sciatica.
  2. Long, slow stretching like that in Yin Yoga can be very effective, especially if done before and after self-myofascial release.  Opening up the lower back and stretching the gluteal muscles and hamstrings is the best place to start.  Check out the pigeon pose stretch for some inspiration.  These stretches are most effective during long holds – like 90-180 seconds – with gradually building intensity by breathing deeper into the stretch with time.
  3. Seek to understand your lifestyle environment better, to become more aware of the driving factors that exacerbate your sciatica.  Perhaps the ergonomic set up of your driver’s seat or desk at work is not ideal.  Maybe your repetitive movements at home with the kids or on the job need rethinking.  More often than not, sciatica and problems like it are the result of simple repetitive behaviours accumulating over time.

Remember that sciatica is a condition of significant severity.  It is very unlikely to go away after following these steps for a couple of days or weeks.  All healing requires time and repetition.

However, if you feel like your pain or problem is beyond the kind of help these steps can provide, or you’ve already tried similar things but you’re still not getting results…. It is time you have a thorough neurostructural assessment to uncover the root cause and severity of your sciatica.

As part of our neurostructural assessment we test your range of movement as well as the efficiency of your nerve system, and we take functional X-rays onsite.  This testing is very effective in giving a clear picture as to exactly where the underlying cause of your sciatica is and what it will take to get corrected.

We can then give you recommendations, including chiropractic care, exercises and lifestyle adjustments over a specific timeframe to correct the root cause.

If you’d like to speak with us today about a neurostructural approach to fixing your sciatica (or any of the symptoms listed earlier), hit the BOOK NOW button at the top of this page.

Dr Tim Leeming

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