What is Sciatica and how to ease the pain

What is Sciatica and how to ease the pain

March 28, 2021

Sciatica…a real pain in the butt!

Sciatica is a subset of back pain specifically related to irritation of the Sciatic Nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve which begins in your lower back and runs via the buttock down the entire length of your leg. Irritation of the sciatic nerve can occur due to a number of reasons, but it is typically a result of: repetitive spinal movement (often bending/straightening); a long or unusual period of leg extension; and/or unaccustomed movements or postures which irritate either the lumbar disc or spinal nerve root. It’s worth noting that whilst all of this sounds quite serious typically sciatica has an excellent chance of healing with time and appropriate advice/treatment. 

That said Sciatica can be very bothersome, and often causes a mixture of severe buttock/leg pain, and pins and needles which can run into the foot. The pain will usually be sharp in nature and will be bad enough to disturb your sleep, and impact your day to day function. In some serve cases it may also cause a loss of leg strength, you may notice that you are less steady on that leg, or feel your foot is catching on the carpet when walking. Please note that if this is the case, then it should be discussed with your Physiotherapist.

Sciatic nerve running through the buttock

At ESP Physio we commonly see patients in our clinic each week with low back injuries and sciatica. We use a mixture of hands on treatment and exercises to get our patients better. To help you get started we have listed a series of specific exercises to try prior to seeing your physiotherapist for treatment. We often find that these exercises will ease your pain. 

Sciatic Nerve Slider Exercise

🎯 Improves mobility of the sciatic nerve

🎓 5-10 reps each leg, little and often throughout the day

⚠️ If your pain is severe keep the repetitions low and only do a few times in the day

Pelvic Bridge Exercise

🎯 Strengthens the gluteal and low back muscles

🎓 10 – 20 reps x 3 sets daily as able

⚠️ Keep your core tight by tensing your buttock and stomach muscles

Knee Rolling Exercise

🎯 Loosen off the lower back and decrease stiffness in the spine and hips

🎓 Perform 10-20 repetitions in total x 3 sets morning, afternoon and evening

⚠️ Try not to force into the pain, just move through the range that you have

Knee Hug Exercise

🎯 Stretch the low back muscles

🎓 Hold for 10-20 seconds x 3 sets morning, afternoon and evening

⚠️ Try to relax into the stretch by taking deep breaths and really trying to let go on the breathe out

Glute Stretch Exercise

🎯 Stretch the gluteal buttock muscles

🎓 Hold for 10-20 seconds x 3 sets morning, afternoon and evening

⚠️ Keep your chest upright and try to bring the knee across to the opposite shoulder

What Should I Do Next?

Because back pain varies so much from person to person, it is difficult to give out specific advice. That’s why we advise those suffering from back pain to come see the team at ESP Physiotherapy for a thorough assessment and an individualised treatment and exercise program. 

If you’re suffering from back pain, remember that it’s unlikely to be serious – even if your pain is high. Do your best to keep moving and manage your pain in the short-term. Trial some simple exercises to keep yourself mobile and if you’re able, make an appointment for treatment as early as possible so that the team at ESP can get you back on track.

With physiotherapy clinics in Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and Grangemouth we remain open for face-to-face sessions as physiotherapy is considered an essential service. If you are struggling with low back pain or sciatica it can be beneficial to get yourself an individualised assessment and plan (including hands-on treatment) to figure out a way forward!

You can book an appointment online here or if you prefer to speak to someone, call Mark or Lynne on 01324 227 370 or drop us an email at info@espphysio.com and we will get you going in no time!

Drop us a message on our social media pages (facebook/instagram) to let us know if you are keen for a more in-depth series in the future (or for any other injuries you might be interested in!).

Written by Jesse Coad  🇦🇺

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