Sciatica is a term for a numbness/ tingling pain that is felt in the buttocks or back of the legs due to irritation anywhere along the course of the Sciatic nerve. There are many causes for this problem, but most commonly:
- Lumbar Disc herniation
- Incorrect lifting technique
- Poor posture when sitting
- Pregnancy related
- Older age – disc degeneration
- Muscle tension across the glutes, hip and lower back
It is estimated to affect around 40% of the population, but is more common in people who are predisposed to the risk factors (Koes et al. 2007). These can include:
- Age (peak 45-64 years)
- Increasing risk with height
- Mental stress
- Occupational factors (sitting, lifting)
- Strenuous physical activity – e.g. frequent lifting, especially bending and twisting
- Driving for prolonged periods
Sciatica can be different for everyone depending on the degree of nerve irritation. But most commonly it can cause difficulty when walking, standing up from a seated position and bending or raising one leg.
It can also start to affect comfort when lying down and therefore your sleep!
Chiropractors specialise in spinal care and with different methods of treatment, we can help restore the mobility of the spine, which will reduce compression on the sciatic nerve.
In a study about the management of sciatica, it was found that chiropractic care has a “long-term outcome advantage” over standard medical attention for patients with some types of sciatica. The study noted that “The chiropractic encounter may have enhanced patients’ self-efficacy motivation, leading to better coping abilities and better pain and disability outcomes”. (Nyiendo et al. 2001).
We can help with education on how to avoid/reduce certain risk factors. You can use aids throughout the day for posture such as lumbar back supports when sitting/driving, sitting on chairs with high backs etc. Most importantly, keep gently moving and stretching throughout the day to ensure you keep your back in peak condition.
Koes, B., van Tulder, M. and Peul, W. (2007). Diagnosis and Treatment of Sciatica. British Medical Journal, 334 (7607), pp.1313-1317.
Nyiendo, J., Haas, M., Goldberg, B. and Lloyd, C. (2001). A descriptive study of medical and chiropractic patients with chronic low back pain and sciatica: Management by physicians (practice activities) and patients (self-management). Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 24 (9), pp.435-551.