I have many people coming to my classes who tell me they have suffered or are suffering from Sciatica.

In many cases that is all they have been told by their GP, but Sciatica can, in many cases, be a symptom rather than a cause.

Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet.

When the nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can cause a pain that radiates out from your lower back and travels down your leg to your calf.

Sciatic pain can range from being mild to very painful. Some causes for Sciatica could be a slipped disk, a tight piriformis muscle or in very rare cases Stenosis. Most people find their sciatic pain goes away naturally within a few days or weeks.

However, see your GP if:

  • you experience any other symptoms together with your back and leg pain, such as weight loss or loss of bladder or bowel control

  • you experience increasingly more pain and discomfort

  • your pain is too severe to manage with self-help measures

In these cases, your GP should check whether there is a more serious problem causing your pain. For persistent sciatica (known as chronic), you may be advised to try a structured exercise programme under the supervision of an Osteopath or physiotherapist. In very rare cases, surgery may be needed to control the symptoms.

There are some steps you can take to minimise your risk of a slipped disc or back injury that could lead to sciatica. This includes:

  • better posture and lifting techniques at work

  • stretching before and after exercise

  • simple, regular exercises to improve flexibility

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