Sciatica can be debilitating and extremely painful. And believe me – you’ll know when you have it.
Have you ever suffered from it? You know the feeling. Terrible and sometimes excruciating pain, shooting from your glutes, travelling all the way down your leg?
Well not me, (until recently); and I have a whole new perspective for those who suffer from Sciatica and can empathise with them completely.
A few months ago I took a break from my yoga class for a few weeks. This also included stepping back from my regular Bowen treatment. Life got busy. At this time, I was also doing a lot of driving. Things got hectic. I needed to get things done quickly so that I could maintain a semblance of normalcy and maintain a work-life balance. And, to be honest; I wasn’t paying attention to me or the little niggles. I felt I had no time to listen to my body, until the little niggles became big niggles; and I couldn’t get out of the car.
Of course I realised straight away from the typical tell-tale symptoms I had Sciatica. And I had it bad.
What exactly is Sciatica
The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve originating in the sacral region (lower back) as fibrous roots from the base of the spine before joining and becoming a single nerve as thick as a man’s thumb. It travels all the way down the back of the leg to the feet. Just above the knees the nerve branches from a single nerve into the tibial and common fibular nerves where it transports nerve signals into the lower extremities of the body.
One of the single most common causes of sciatica is inflammation or damage to a herniated disc in the lower spine. Between each vertebrae of the spine is a spongy cushion. This cushion acts as a shock absorber and through age or injury will bulge when it becomes weakened.
For some, the inflammation and wear and tear of cartilage as arthritis and bone spurs can rub on exposed nerves causing sciatica problems.
Thankfully, for one in seven suffers of sciatica piriformis syndrome is uncommon. This occurs when the sciatica nerve compresses or passes through the piriformis muscle (a muscle deep in the back of the gluteus maximus muscle).
Yes, but what is it?
Sciatica is referred to the localised pain, felt along the sciatic nerve from the lower back, deep into the buttocks and down the legs, sometimes to the feet. The pain can be mild to severe; sometimes pins and needles, numbness or weakness in the leg. Coughing and sneezing can exacerbate the condition.
Get a reliable and professional confirmation
It is best to seek advise from a medical professional. An x-ray will not show up sciatica; but will show up bone spurs or narrow disc spaces. Your doctor can also determine sciatica from a series of tests in a physical examination, and may arrange for a CT or MRI if severe or the condition is worsening despite treatment.
It is important not to self-diagnose. See your doctor if the condition worsens suddenly and is severe. Sciatica can become a serious medical emergency if you feel leg or muscle weakness or experience bowel or bladder incontinence. You should always seek medical help if sciatica is brought on by an accident.
How best to treat Sciatica
Although Sciatica can be severe; it more than likely will resolve itself given time and the appropriate treatment.
I found mild yoga stretches, swimming, and gentle walking beneficial. But the coup de grace was the combination of Bowen Therapy and Massage treatments with a gentle exercise routine. I was back to normal in about ten days.
Alternate methods to counter and alleviate Sciatica pain are
- Heat and or ice packs to help reduce the initial pain (alternate 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off)
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
- Spinal manipulation by trained professionals or physicians
- Definitely Massage. Gentle Massage increases blood flow to those targeted areas. Bowen and massage encourage muscular relaxation and the body’s natural pain-killers (endorphins) are released through massage.
Sciatica can last for month’s and even years. It is always better to try to prevent these things from happening in the first place. It’s easy in hindsight to realise how to avoid muscular strain and injury in the first place. If I had listened to my body and continued with my regular maintenance routine, I doubt this would have happened… lesson learned.
We must help our selves. Listen to what your body is telling you. The inclusion of regular massage treatments in a maintenance program is not a luxury or a treat; it is a powerful ally in taking charge of your health and well-being.
As a sufferer of Sciatica I can truly empathise with anyone who is suffering from this painful condition.
They say all things happen for a reason. I suspect that had I not endured the pain from a herniated disc I was blissfully unaware of so many natural choices of pain relief that actually can help. The plus side of all this is three-fold;
- I have expanded my repertoire of massage techniques to embody strokes designed to relieve nerve pain.
- Now, I can truly say ‘I know how you feel’.
- I am now more in tune with my own self and listening again to what my body tells me.
With thanks and appreciation to the following sources for the information garnished for the above blog.
If you would like to read about Sciatica more in-depth please refer to the following references and links: