Sciatica is common and affects a number of people of all ages and abilities. Yet it is also surrounded by a number of myths.Sciatica is pain or numbness anywhere along the sciatic nerve (which runs from the lower spine, through the buttocks, and down the backs of the legs) caused by compression of the nerve.
Myth: We do not know what actually causes Sciatica
Fact: Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched or compressed, which is often caused by a bulging or herniated disk between the vertebrae in the lower spine.
Other causes include a bone growth on the spine itself or by spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. Thorough examination can typically enable us to determine the cause and therefore the best treatment and recovery path.
Myth: Sciatica is a diagnosis or a condition
Fact: Sciatica is actually a symptom, indicating that something is irritating a nerve root in the lower back. As Osteopaths, our goal is to determine the cause of that pressure on the nerve and advise on the best treatment plan for each patient.
Myth: I should stay in bed and rest if I have Sciatica
Fact: As with back pain, we recommend that most of our patients will benefit more by remaining active and avoid bed rest. We see little to no benefit to staying in bed compared with staying active for people with sciatica.
Myth: Medication is the only way to provide relief from Sciatica
Fact: Reaching for an anti-inflammatory drug is generally most people’s first instinct to help ease the pain of sciatica. However “a systematic review and meta-analysis published in February 2012 in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) found a lack of evidence of the efficacy of drugs including NSAIDs, corticosteroids, antidepressants, and opioid analgesics.”
Osteopaths are highly trained to identify if you are suffering from sciatica using a number of neurological and orthopaedic tests. However, it is not always possible to relieve true sciatica with just osteopathic treatment and your osteopath will know when to send you for further investigations or a different treatment approach.
Myth: All leg pain means I have Sciatica
Fact: There could be a number of reasons for your leg pain including muscle strains, vascular issues or another nerve being irritated. The symptoms of Sciatica runs from the mid-buttock down the back of the leg, commonly past the knee and down through the calf.
Myth: Sciatica is caused by an injury or event
Fact: This is not always the case. In most cases the intervertebral disk has a small defect and is ready to herniate, which means the Sciatica is not necessarily caused from any specific event.
Myth: Surgery is the only way to truly address Sciatica
In most cases, Sciatica can be resolved within about six weeks and do not need surgery. We may recommend other treatment options if the Sciatica is particularly stubborn to treat.
Myth: Sciatica cannot be prevented
It is true that not all cases of Sciatica can be prevented, but maintaining an active life, correct posture, strong core and body maintenance will all help towards preventing lower back pain and Sciatica. We highly recommend Pilates as an effective form of exercise to help prevent and address Sciatica as it focuses on strengthening your core.
For more information and advice about how Osteopathy can reduce your symptoms and treat sciatica please call me or send a message.