Pain in the butt!

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One of the many reasons why my clients come into my practice is because they are complaining of “sciatica”.

Let’s start with a definition:

“Sciatica” is actually a symptom. This symptom most commonly describes pain starting in the low back and radiating down the leg. It is either caused by damage to one or more of the nerve roots in the low back – this is usually due to a damaged disc – or compression of the sciatic nerve as it runs down the back of the leg – which can be due to soft tissue impingement.

The pain is usually felt along the path of the affected nerve and is frequently a “shooting pain” which travels below the knee to the foot. You may also experience muscle weakness and / or numbness and “pins and needles”.


If you have sciatica, contact a health care professional like a physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, or GP. Initially, in-office clinical tests will be performed. An MRI scan may be necessary in complicated cases that don’t respond to care. Even when a disc is the problem, I find that there will often be multiple areas of irritation along the sciatic nerve’s path. These all have to be addressed for the best results.

Finding the Cause

At Fleet Physio and Wellness we will do some extra analysis to find out the root cause as this is essential to long term success. One of our main diagnostic systems is ‘Proprioceptive Muscle Testing’. This is a hands-on process of challenging muscle reflexes to see which muscles are failing and we will also check spesific core muscles that may help to control the movement of the spine and therefore lead to less irritation of the disc if involved.

Self Help

  1. Ice and stretch – Reducing inflammation and gently stretching out the muscle spasm eases symptoms and promotes healing. This is best done in the first 48 hours after the initial acute pain / exacerbation.

2. Keep mobile – I like to refer to this as “active rest”. This means that you     are using your body but not straining it.

  1. Strengthen your core – After the acute pain has eased, a good strong core is essential for proper healing.
  1. Improve your posture – Posture is not only a static event. It’s the way we hold ourselves through movement and different static tasks.
  1. Lifestyle changes – sometimes what we do daily is leading to problems – by identifying problem areas and activities you can minimise or eliminate the impact on your life, often by making simple, small changes.

Understanding your body helps you to be more involved in your own health care and take control of your wellbeing again so you can be fit to thrive.

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