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What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a term used to describe pain and/ or numbness and/ or weakness that radiates down your sciatic nerve. This irritation is from your lower back down to your buttocks and leg. Depending on where the roots of your sciatic nerve compress will dictate where in your leg and foot you experience symptoms.

Sciatica is a type of pain/ neurological symptom that originates from within your sciatic nerve. You’ll usually feel the pain from this down the path of the nerve, which runs down your leg and into your foot. It’s common in as many as 40% of people and grows in frequency as we age.

Sciatic nerve pain is also called lumbar radiculopathy.

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Questions & Answers


What causes sciatic nerve pain to flare up?

A lot of symptoms result from lower back disorders between the L4 and S1 on your spinal cord. They put pressure on/ cause irritation of your lumbar nerve root, which is why sciatica in pregnancy is common. The additional weight causes this effect.

Other causes of sciatic flare up could be scar tissue, muscle strains, and bone fractures.


What causes sciatica buttock pain?

The sciatic nerve is the largest one in your body. It is formed from 5 nerves, the roots of which converge in your lower spine (lumbar). It passes deep inside your buttock and then down the back of your thigh, then off down to your heel and sole of your foot. This can be the result of a back injury and via referred pain you feel the pinch down your leg.


What does sciatic pain feel like?

The pain usually felt only on one side of your body. It may include a combination of leg and foot pain and numbness, tingling or weakness. People with sciatica pain often described it as searing or sharp. Not achy or throbbing. Because sciatica starts in the lower back, back pain and sciatica are also linked.


What triggers sciatica?

Sciatica is a common condition, but few people really understand that it is a symptom of a back problem, rather than the actual root cause.

To explain, it’s important to understand how your body works. If you have a spinal disc which is a little out of alignment, this will press against the root of your sciatic nerve. This triggers your body to release proteins, which inflame your sciatic nerve. Hence causing you pain as it becomes irritated.

We often find there are specific groups of people who suffer from sciatica, for instance;

* If you’re under 60, then nerve sciatica is a symptom often of a herniated disc or isthmic spondylolisthesis
* When over 60, this is when your spine often degenerates, which can lead to issues such as lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back) and degenerative spondylolisthesis.

The result of both is compression of the sciatic nerve, which then leads to pain through your pelvis and into your lower leg/ foot.

Don’t panic though. There is a solution. We have outstanding success at Essential Feeling of helping people with sciatica by dealing with the cause of the problem — your back and often tight glute muscles. Often people will say to us, ‘why do you massage an unfamiliar area, no the pain is here,’ as they point in frustration as though we have missed their point or not listened to their issues. Now you know why.

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How do I relieve sciatic nerve pain?

Many people will have physiotherapy, which essentially involves relaxing and stretching the muscles with strengthening your back.

At Essential Feeling, we have had outstanding success in helping our clients by easing their symptoms of sciatica. We use massage, which we will often combine with other techniques, such as stretching. By loosening up your muscles before we start with deep tissue work, this allows us to release those tight muscles which have gone into spasm around the sciatic nerve as well as allowing your discs to slip back into their normal space.

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What are the first signs of sciatica?

*Lower back pain
*Pain which is in the rear of your leg. It’s worse when seated.
*Burning/ tingling pain down your leg
*Weakness/ numbness down leg and/ or foot.
*Difficulty walking due to shooting pain
*Constant pain on one side of your body from your back down


Sciatica diagnosis

If you go to your doctor, they may well send you for x-rays, MRI scans or CT scans. These will allow the consultant to look at your spine in order to diagnose the condition.

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Sciatica treatment and stopping a flare up

Other than going to the doctors and having invasive back surgery, there are some precautions you can take.
*Exercise regularly, but only within your personal limits, don’t over-strain but do maintain strength in your core and back.
*Maintain good posture when you sit. Slumping forward puts the strain on your lower back.
*Maintain good posture when you stand for long periods. Wearing good shoes helps.
*Avoid bending and lifting heavy objects.
*Have regular quality massages




Does sciatica go away on its own?

Sciatic pain may ease on its own, although you could experience numbness down your leg after the sharp pain subsides. We call this neuropathy.

Acute sciatica has a fast onset and could last for one to two weeks. However, this can turn into chronic sciatica, so your pain is more prolonged.



Our advice, which isn’t just because we make a living helping people with these issues, is to always have the problem sorted out as soon as you sense it so that you don’t end up suffering with more pain than is necessary in the longer term.



The sciatic pain relief massage we do at Essential Feeling uses several techniques.

Your massage therapist will work with direct pressure to break down tight muscles to stop them from catching your sciatic nerve. This eases pain. We will often combine this deep muscle work with stretching bodywork techniques. Your therapist will decide the exact way that your sciatic work will be done on the day, depending on the conditions with which you present.

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