What is Sciatica?
Sciatica (or lumbar radiculopathy,) is a term that describes symptoms of pain, numbness or weakness which radiates from the sciatic nerve to the low back and buttocks and often down to the leg or ankle.
The lumbar is referenced because the sciatic nerve goes from the lumbar spine from the vertebrae of L4 and L5 down to the sacral regions to the skeletal vertebrae of S1 and S2. The nerve then travels down the side of the hip region and into the leg to the ankle and foot. If you are feeling symptoms in the lower leg and foot, it has become a bigger issue, but still not too late to address it.
Sciatic type pain is mostly felt on one side of the body, despite the sciatic nerve running down both sides. It can often be accompanied by lower back pain, and pain in the hip and groin area. There are many causes for this (listed below) and I will assess each client on an individual basis.
I suffered from sciatica for years and it was the type where I could not sit down for long or stand up for long either. It drains you of energy and zaps your mood. People who have never had sciatic issues cannot understand the discomfort and dull ache that just lingers in the body – horrible.
I discovered how to get rid of that serious sciatica for myself and work with clients with a varierty of symptoms too. I still experience it now and again as my pelvis is slightly misaligned which leads to one leg a few mms shorter than the other. Luckily, I can work it out easily and effectively.
My aim now is to also help you to reduce the pain and manage your symptoms at home, following a course of remedial massage, myofacial release and trigger point therapy with me.
Causes of Sciatica
The problem with seeing your GP for sciatica issues is that there are so many causes, so it can seem like an uphill struggle to discover what this is within the 10 minute NHS consultation. It can also take time (and NHS resources and finances) to do varies tests and waiting for appointments with various specialists can make the matter worse.
IN ADDITION, I can guide and mentor you to make the lifestyle changes necessary to help reduce this. My aim would be to first work from a massage therapy point of view (see recommended treatment below) and see where that leads you.
The main causes of sciatica are:
- Compression of the nerve in the lumbar spine and/or gluteal muscles and periformis muscles in the buttocks
- Spinal discs which have narrowed due to dehydration
- Prolapsed discs
- Spondylolysis or scoliosis
- Deposits of bone
- Years of slow degeneration due to poor posture
- Incorrect usage and misaligned body structure
- Fusion of the joints or operation due to a previous back issue
- Inactive weak gluteal muscles and shortened hamstrings
- Lack of sleep can elevate pain (this can also be a lifestyle factor)
- The sciatic nerve running through the periformis muscle rather than over or under it
- Years of slow degeneration due to physical causes
- Facet joint issues, including facet joint arthritis
- Being overweight and inactive
- Lack of sleep as mentioned above
- Poor diet with toxic type of foods which cause inflammation and poor nutrient absorption
My 10 step approach to reducing sciatica will be something along the lines of:
- Source where the issue is coming from. I have 3 types of postural tests to work this out. We do this in the therapy room at your first appointment
- Test your flexion within the hip flexors and adductors and release any tension there to help rotation and flexion
- Work on the muscles, ligaments, facia and bones of the back, hips, sacral and hamstrings
- Eliminate the pressure in the lumbar region with massage then elongating the legs and stretching the hips and lumbar (this varies depending individual clients)
- Gentle manipulation to stimulate the nervous system to fire but not to overreact – a delicate procedure
- Assessment and massage therapy of the ankle and lower leg as a guide to rotation and nerves (whilst on the massage couch)
- Introduce you to stretches to help you manage symptoms at home between sessions
- Reassess the symptoms at a follow-up session for three weeks x two months or move to monthly or six-weekly sessions (depending on results)
- Introduce behavioural changes to keep the spine supple and supported
- Empower you to adapt good sleep routines
My experience of working with this is that an initial block of three sessions over four weeks helps with the muscle memory and posture, especially if the patient is taking further steps at home to prevent further injury.
Monthly or 6 weekly sessions may then be enough to maintain structure (this will depend on your budget and lifestyle and I will take that into consideration too)
With all of my therapies, I suggest that clients take control of their own symptoms and manage them in between massage appointment or the protocol I suggest. This is crucial to reducing symptoms, as daily self-help is key. I can guide you through the self-care at each session, once we have reduced your pain and discomfort.
I will give you stretches following your second or third session with me. This is when the muscles and ligaments should be flexible enough to adapt to a new exercise regime.
- Eating a healthier diet consisting of more vegetables and fruits and high antioxidant foods. I will provide this list for you as part of your treatment
- Addressing constipation if that is one of your causes. The full bowel can press on the sciatic region causing some discomfort. This can be reduced by following a specific diet with less of the highly fiberous type of foods and more easily digestible foods for a while
- Increased hydration. This is not just about drinking gallons of water, although that does also help. If you experience constipation, I would be suggesting warm water and certain spices that help reduce it.
- Inflammation – any changes in diet and stress will help reduce this
- Stress – a big factor as the central nervous system can often be in overdrive. If you feel constantly stressed, then a few coaching sessions can get to the bottom of this and help you to reduce it
- Degeneration – a great example of this is hips where a replacement is needed. The greater trocanter can become aggrevated and out of balance. Self maintenance and self-massage will help with this and I can show you how to do that
- Loosing weight and starting to be more active. It is understandable that severe cases of sciatica or low back problems can due due to the excess pressure and pulling from the increased weight. I can help you to lose weight if that is the main cause. Otherwise, we can just do regular massage maintenance sessions
- Reducing over-exercising and adapting an exercise protocol that suits your body form and structure
- Introducing the correct stretching and yoga to gently stretch related muscle groups and ligaments. This can be done first thing in the morning.
With all my therapies, I take a professional approach and will ensure your safety at all times. A full Consultation Form will need to complete prior to your first appointment. Costs are £45.00 and you should expect to be with me for around 1 hour 10 minutes. Free parking is available.
If you would like to have a chat about your symptoms and how I can help, fill in the form below and I will call you back: