Sciatica is an old term for a symptom that is now referred to as radicular pain, it often originates in the back but is generally felt as pain running down the back of a leg. It is often only present on one side and can travel all the way down the leg. Can be different intensities and may be associated with a shooting pain with, particularly movements. Can also be associated with numbness or a feeling of weakness in the affected leg.
Who and How do we diagnose?
Sciatic symptoms can generally be self-diagnosed, due to the generally common presentation as outlined above. If unsure, your medical professional should be able to diagnose with more certainty with certain provocative tests that can bring it on. Scans are usually not required.
Sciatica is also present in approximately 2-3% of patients with low back pain that is of a discogenic nature, as there could be inflammation pressing on the nerve.
How do we treat sciatica?
Firstly, activity modification, early on it is important to reduce any aggravating factors temporarily. After this, ice and heat may be effective in symptom modification and your therapist may guide you through some stretches or even use manual therapy to reduce secondary symptoms.
Generally prompt resumption of some activity is often important to get you back to doing the things you love. Your therapist should also be guiding you through some strength and control-based exercises to improve your function and getting you back to feeling like yourself again. Once the pain has settled it’s important to continue with strength work to ensure a long term solution for symptom abatement as this way your body is a lot more capable of handling everyday tasks.