Every time a potential client calls me and explains that they are being affected by Sciatica, I am very pleased. Of course, I am not happy to hear that they are dealing with this pesky ailment, but that they decided to call an LMT to help with their problem. Many people turn immediately to their family doctor, who will most likely prescribe drugs or push for surgery to cure their pain. I love to treat Sciatica with bodywork because it has such a high success rate. I have treated countless cases of Sciatica in my practice and over 90% of these clients retain a full recovery or decrease their pain significantly.
Sciatica is characterized by pain. Whether this pain is intense or dull, clients often complain that this pain considerably stifles their life. So then what is Sciatica and why does it cause so much discomfort?
Put simply, it is a nerve compression disorder. The name Sciatica describes what is being compressed – the Sciatic Nerve. This nerve is the largest single nerve in the human body. It runs from each side of the lumbar spine and travels down and deep into the buttocks. It also makes its way down into the back of the thigh and eventually to the foot, connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles.
Now because this nerve in the largest one we have, it makes sense that if irritated, there would be a lot of associated pain. But how does the Sciatic nerve become compressed? Anatomically, this nerve passes in-between 2 deep, hip rotator muscles called the Piriformis and the Superior Gemellus. These muscles are very small but play an important role in allowing our hips to laterally rotate.
Sciatica Pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back
It consists of leg pain, which might feel like a bad leg cramp, or it can be excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. Sciatica might be a symptom of a “pinched nerve” affecting one or more of the lower spinal nerves. The nerve might be pinched inside or outside of the spinal canal as it passes into the leg.
Sciatica is often characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely can occur in both legs)
- Pain that is worse when sitting
- Burning or tingling down the leg (vs. a dull ache)
- Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
- A constant pain on one side of the rear
- A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk