What You Need to Know about Sciatica

By Steve Kravitz, PT, DPT, CST

Are you experiencing leg pain? Does it begin in your lower back and travel down your buttock, causing you to feel a numbing or tingling feeling down the back of your leg?

If your answer is yes, it seems you are describing sciatica, a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Often times, patients who are experiencing sciatica tend to undergo pain that radiates down his or her leg and possibly into their foot or toes. It has also been described as having difficulty standing up or walking and that the pain worsens when sitting down. This type of pain can vary from infrequent and aggravating to continuous and disabling. Sciatic pain can vary between each patient and is largely based on the location of the pinched nerve.

What Causes Sciatica?

The six most common lower back problems that are most responsible for sciatica are:

Sciatica symptoms are felt when the large sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin. This can be due to any number of reasons that can cause lower back problems including improper lifting or bending, chronic poor sitting posture, or injury.

What are the symptoms?  

While the symptoms of sciatica can be irritating and disabling, it is rare that permanent damage will result of the sciatic nerve.  

  • Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting

  • Hip pain

  • Burning or tingling down the leg

  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot

  • A constant pain on one side of the rear

  • A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up

The Sciatic Nerve

Your sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in your body. It is made up of individual roots that begin by branching out from your spine in your lower back. All of these individual roots combine to form your sciatic nerve. Parts of your sciatic nerve then travel through each leg to innervate certain parts of your leg, including your thigh, calf, foot, and toes. So if there’s a nerve fixation, it’s likely it can send unusual signals to the structure that it innervates whether it’s a muscle, connective tissue, or an organ. These fixations can create an abnormal change in pressure within your nerve that may be creating nerve tension. This may help explain why pain is sometimes felt in your lower back and travels down your leg. Through Nerve Mobilization, my goal is to maximize mobility, develop and/or restore function, alleviate the pain, and ultimately, promote overall health and wellness.

How Nerve Mobilization Can Help Alleviate Sciatica Pain

When patients come in for treatment, it is very important to understand the underlying source of sciatica. Treatment will be most effective when I’m aware of what’s causing you to feel pain. Once I am able to address this, it can also benefit in alleviating acute symptoms. I’m able to do this by performing Nerve Mobilization, a type of nerve therapy I provide that specifically locates and treats fixations of nerves throughout your body. I start by applying gentle and precise pressure to your nerve in order to glide or floss it through your nerve sheath to allow maximum pain relief and optimum function. By performing a nerve manipulation on your nerve fixation, your nerve would move more smoothly through its sheath without restriction. This should improve function and decrease the nerve related symptoms you feel such as pain in the arm or leg, numbness, tingling, and/or burning.

Nerve Mobilization is just one part of a unique, personalized approach to Physical Therapy which has been developed over twenty years by Dr. Steve Kravitz of Steve Kravitz Physical Therapy.  To learn more about how Nerve Mobilization can help you,  contact us or read more on our blog.

If you would like to connect directly with me, please visit me on Facebook or Twitter or send me an email.  

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