Understanding Sciatica

Physio Well-th therapist attending to a woman suffering from neck and back pain

Understanding Sciatica

5 tips to prevent a painful bout of Sciatica

Sciatica is a term to describe pain anywhere down or along the sciatic nerve which is a large nerve extending from the lower back, down the thigh to the back of each leg. It can reveal itself as weakness, numbness, and tingling, burning or shooting pain along the legs or lower back. This might make it difficult to move your legs or stand up.

For some people, having sciatica means a few days of irritating pain. For others it can be weeks of severe and debilitating pain, sometimes lasting up to 6 weeks.

If not treated properly, sciatica has the potential to get worse over time.

If you have a history of sciatica, you may know that even doing some relatively minor activities such as gardening, shopping, lifting a young child or dancing can re-trigger an episode.

We can help out with treating your sciatica, but to prevent its onset there are a few simple steps that you can follow:

  1. Exercise regularly– make it part of your routine, not just after a bout of sciatica. Exercising regularly, focusing on back and abdominal strengthening will help strengthen these muscles. Excellent activities include swimming or Pilates. We can advise on the best types of activities to suit you.
  2. Maintain good posture– maintain proper posture at work, while driving or sitting with your neck straight, shoulders down and back supported. If you work for long periods at a desk or a computer I strongly recommend getting your station ergonomically assessed to ensure that your seat, computer and desk are appropriately set up for you.
  3. Avoid sitting for long periods of time– take micro breaks at work every 20-30 minutes. A good idea is to stand up and have a drink of water, taking a few minutes to walk around.
  4. Be mindful of your sleeping posture– you may wish to sleep with a pillow underneath your knees or by your side, supporting your back.
  5. Work on your lifting technique– be mindful when lifting heavy objects. Get close, low and use the strength of your legs. Even better, lift from the hip so that you don’t have to stoop, ensuring neutral spine.

If you have or are experiencing sciatica it’s best to contact us immediately, even if you feel like you can’t move. We will be able to start treating it straight away to assist with your recovery to reduce the amount of time that you are in pain or off from work. Treating sciatica in the acute phase (within 48 hours) will shorten your recovery time. We have a variety of techniques available to manage sciatic pain including physical therapy, massage, trigger point relief and dry needling as well as exercise prescription.

Contact us today at our Keilor Downs clinic on 9364 1000 or at our Maribyrnong Edgewater clinic on (03) 9317 7777 so that we can assess which is best for your recovery!