In our clinic we often get clients coming in saying, “I have sciatica”. Now some of them are right, but very often they are not, and the cause of their pain is something very different. Here are some things which can give symptoms similar to sciatica:
Sciatica is a word which refers to pain in the backe of your leg, and sometimes into the foot. The origin of the sciatica nerve irritation is typically the point at which the sciatic nerve leaves the spine, AKA the nerve root.
The nerve root can be irritated or it can be compressed. Both problems normally heal and recover all by themselves without the need for injections or operations, they just need the right environment.
Well if you have a cut on your hand and you keep knocking it, what happens? The cut gets irritated and takes a bit longer to heal, right? So how do you make the cut get better? You leave it alone and stop doing the things that are irritating it and it gets better. Now that doesn’t mean you do nothing, it just means a short period of changing what you do with the area.
If you do have true sciatica and your nerve root is irritated as it leaves your spine, some things you are doing may be aggravating your symptoms and that could mean you need to change the environment. That may mean bending differently, not twisting so much, sitting with support more often or simply not ignoring the pain! You know who you are if you are reading this!
You may experience one or more of the following symptoms.
If you have a combination of;
That trio of things means that an MRI scan may be helpful to confirm your diagnosis. But that still doesn’t mean you can’t get better. An MRI scan in this example ultimately is to exclude anything serious going on in your spine, and to consider whether you may need to see a surgeon to consider the next steps. The numbers of people who need this are small but sometimes if you have severe muscle strength loss you do need surgery to make sure it is not permanent.
Medication can be very effective in helping reduce your pain. Typical painkillers sometimes don’t work though and a type of drug called a neuropathic pain medication may be useful, pregabalin (lyrica) or gabapentin are the two most commonly used.
Well that all depends on whether it is truly sciatica? How long you have had it for? Your age? And a whole load of other things which are found on a person by person basis. So unfortunately there is not a one size fits all, if there was, someone, somewhere would be a millionaire!