Sciatica pain – prevention and treatment

Sciatica is an umbrella term/diagnosis given for someone suffering from lower back pain alongside radiating symptoms down one leg. It is estimated that between 5-10% of people suffering with lower back pain may develop symptoms more consistent with true Sciatica. Some common symptoms of Sciatica include:=

How does it happen?

At tissue level, there is compression or inflammation of typically the lumbo-sacral nerve roots (L4-S1) in which the sciatic nerve arises from.

What do you need to look out for?

It is important that you inform your physiotherapist or doctor immediately if you develop any of the following:

What should you do?

Treatment may vary, and the situation should be reviewed by a professional if the pain becomes worse, the symptoms change, or if significant pain persists beyond 4-6 weeks.

What will happen?

Generally, the prognosis is very good with someone suffering from Sciatica for symptoms to be relieved or significantly decreased over time. Time taken to recovery due to the high variability and impact of Sciatica on a person’s life. However, early intervention and action is crucial for better outcomes.

Can you prevent it?

Evidence suggests that the best way to prevent bouts of low back pain and Sciatica is simply to keep active, and to exercise regularly. This means general fitness exercise such as walking, running, swimming etc. It is also sensible to be ‘back aware’. For example, do not lift objects that are too heavy for you or when you are in an awkward twisting posture, keep objects close to your body when lifting, be aware of your sitting posture and take regular breaks to avoid sitting for long periods. Your physiotherapist can assist with exercise and advice specific for your problem.

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