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Sciatic Nerve Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Sciatic Nerve Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


The Sciatic Nerve

Firstly, what is the sciatic nerve? Here is a brief anatomy lesson for you! The sciatic nerve is a major nerve of the lower limb. It is a thick rope like band approximately 2cm wide, which makes it one of the largest nerves in the body. The sciatic nerve derives from the spinal cord in the lower back. It stems from several nerve roots (L4-S3) which then come together to form the sciatic nerve and enters the gluteal region. It then travels down the back of the thigh, and as it reaches the back of the knee it then splits into two separate nerves called the tibial and common peroneal nerves. Two of the main roles for the sciatic nerve or any nerve is to supply motor (movement) and sensory (sensation) functions. The sciatic nerve innervates muscles of the leg to allow movement and sensation for the lower leg and foot.

Causes of Sciatic Nerve Pain

The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when the softer interior of the disc pushes out through the tough exterior of the disc. Other causes of sciatic nerve pain are listed below:

  • Spinal stenosis- which is narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Spondylolisthesis- where one of the vertebral bones move out of place either forwards or backwards.
  • Spinal injury or infection
  • A growth within the spinal canal such as a tumour

Symptoms of Sciatic Nerve Pain

Common symptoms of sciatica include one or several of the following:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the buttock and at the back of the leg. Also a burning sensation or tingling in the leg
  • Change in sensation- numbness or pins and needles in the leg or foot
  • Weakness of the leg or difficulty moving the leg or foot

If you have any other unusual symptoms such as disrupted bladder or bowel function, altered sensation between your legs or genital area, weakness in one or both legs, a history of cancer, unremitting night pain or sweats, unexplained weight loss, please inform your physiotherapist or GP. This symptoms needs to be addressed promptly.

Treatment for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Your physiotherapist will consider your symptoms and factor in your lifestyle when planning your treatment plan. Ultimately your physiotherapist will educate you in how to manage your symptoms and help you return to previous function as timely as possible. Here are some tips and things to consider during your recovery.

  • Consult your GP or pharmacist for adequate pain relief.
  • Education and advice on back pain management will be an integral aspect of your recovery. Your physiotherapist will provide all this information.
  • Progressive exercise programme to help you return to normal function.
  • Posture and ergonomics re-education and advice.
  • It is important to remain as active as possible. Research has shown this to be helpful with the treatment of back pain and sciatica.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms please contact the clinic today to book an appointment with one of our trained physiotherapist. We now have an online booking system or you can also contact the clinic on 01 660 6582.

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