Sciatica is a symptom of an irritated sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve begins in the lumbar spine runs through the sacrum and gluteal muscles, down the posterior aspect of the thigh before it further divides to supply the lower legs and feet.
Anything that irritates the sciatic nerve can produce sciatic pain and or neurological symptoms like paraesthesia – numbness, tingling or even weakness. However, it is thought that a combination of muscle, joint and bone compression may lead to sciatica. Sciatica typically presents in the population over 40 years of age. It can be an acute condition with symptoms lasting up to four weeks or it may persist into a longer and debilitating problem .
In many cases of sciatica, there is not a single obvious cause. Some of the more common reasons for the condition are:
- Injury – of or within the spine.
- Spinal stenosis – narrowing within the spinal canal compressing the sciatic nerve.
- Spondylolisthesis – forward slippage of the vertebra upon the one below pinching the sciatic nerve.
- Infection of or within the spine
- Cauda equina syndrome – rare, but a serious condition affecting the lower part of the spinal cord aka “the horses tail” that requires immediate medical intervention. This condition may lead to paralysis if not attended to.
- Tumor along the pathway of the nerve.
Sciatica Risk Factors
- Age – as we get older, dehydration and degeneration in discs increases. This leads to compression and stiffness and increases the likelihood of sciatica.
- Occupation – any types of employment that require frequent lifting for long periods.
- Sedentary Lifestyle – people who spend long longer hours sitting compared to active people are more likely to develop symptoms of sciatica.
Sciatica and Osteopathy
Osteopathy looks at the biomechanics involved of the lumbar spine, pelvis hips associated muscles. Your osteopath with check for strength and weakness, strains and posture compensations to improve function and reduce the neurological compromise.