Sciatica is when the sciatic nerve, which forms from nerves in your back and runs from your buttock to your foot, becomes irritated. You may experience pain in the back, buttock, down the back of the leg and calf. The pain may be burning or shooting and you may have pins and needles and tingling or even numbness and weakness in the leg.
Most cases of sciatica settle down in 4-6 weeks with painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
It is advisable to continue being active and avoid sitting or lying down for long periods. Being gently active will be helping with the healing process and is not harmful, even if it’s painful.
Heat packs to the painful areas can be soothing, with short 5 minute applications of a cool pack every hour. Ask your pharmacist about painkillers that can help. Do not use hot water bottles or ice packs from the freezer as you could burn your skin.
Go to A&E or call 999 if you have sciatica in both legs, have weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse, have numbness around or under your genitals, or around your anus, find it hard to start peeing, can’t pee or can’t control when you pee.
These could be symptoms of a serious back problem that needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible.
How Osteopathy can help
Osteopathic treatment of sciatica is guided by what is causing the irritation of the sciatic nerve. After examination to identify the cause, treatment may be offered to help with the symptoms. Gentle massage, mobilisation and stretching may be used to reduce muscle spasm and ease congestion around the irritated nerve. Advice on posture, exercise and self management will also be offered.