How to successfully treat Sciatica

1 Pelvic bone
2 Sciatic nerve
3 Femur
4 Sacrum

Sciatic nerve dysfunction is a condition in which the sciatic nerve conducts impulses abnormally. The sciatic nerve is the main nerve of the leg. Abnormalities of this nerve can impair movement and/or sensation. Sciatica is a term that describes pain along the sciatic nerve. The term ‘sciatica’ is used to describe a symptom and is not a diagnosis. Typically it refers to pain experienced from the low back and radiating into the buttocks, and down the leg along the pathway of the sciatic nerve.

Sciatica pain may be triggered by heavy lifting, coughing or sneezing, sitting or driving too long, poor posture at home or at work, or the symptoms may just appear with standing or walking. It is commonly thought that sciatica is caused by a herniated disc (damage to the disc causes the inside material to protrude and compress the adjacent nerve upon exiting the spinal canal), but this is not necessarily so. Studies have shown that degenerative changes in the spine, which occur with aging, do not correlate well with the symptoms of sciatica. Some people have found to have one or more herniated discs, but have no pain. Thus, there must be different causes for sciatica, other than the presence of a herniated disc. The sciatic nerve may also be entrapped at various locations along its course by either the presence of scar tissue, a muscle spasm or trigger points in the soft tissue, which lead to irritation and inflammation of the nerve.

Sciatica can be treated effectively through physical therapy, however in severe (acute or chronic) cases, the combined effect of physical therapy and acupuncture will ensure the outcome to be highly successful. The physical therapist will use manual skills to find the exact location of nerve entrapment and determine what structures are involved. In consultation with the acupuncturist the compromising tissues will be precisely targeted to obtain maximal release with subsequent reduced irritation and inflammation of the compromised nerve. The physical therapist will also assess abnormal gait patterns, faulty posture, poor driving habits, etc. which are often contributing to the underlying problem.

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