Sciatica refers to pain caused by a compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve which supplies the leg. Symptoms generally include pain in the buttock radiating down the back of the legs and which can sometimes spreadin to the ankles, feet and toes.The pain of sciatica can be intense and some people also experience numbness and weakness of the muscles as the compression of the nerve inhibits effective control. In a typical presentation, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.
Is it sciatica or something else? If you have low back pain radiating into the back of the leg, sciatica is one possibility but by no means the only issue. If your symptoms do not extend below the knee, it is less likely that the sciatic nerve is involved.
Assessing the condition
When you have your condition evaluated by an osteopath for the likely cause you will be able to get appropriate advice and/or treatment. Bear in mind that the term sciatica tells you nothing about where the nerve irritation is, or why it is happening. An osteopath will consider your symptoms, your medical history and their examination findings in coming to a diagnosis as to what is happening to cause your discomfort.
Treatment should then be specific and effective; occasionally, there may be cause for further investigation, but then you will be advised about appropriate action in the meantime. Even if you already have a diagnosis such as disc herniation, you may well benefit from treatment because an improvement to the function of the local musculoskeletal structures usually offers some relief and can speed up tissue recovery.