Everyone knows the term, but what does it really mean? Is it always used correctly?
Let's start with a little etymology...
Sciatica is a colloquial term for sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain.
The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in the human body. It is formed by the union of nerve roots emerging from the vertebral levels of L4, L5 and S1.
This nerve is both sensory and motor, and in particular enables movement of the lower limbs.
Suffering of the sciatic nerve can therefore give rise to pain along the path of this nerve, i.e. from the buttock behind the thigh to the back of the knee, then continuing along the posterior and lateral part of the calf to the little toe and under the sole of the foot. Pain can sometimes be electric or burning-like along this path, and accompanied to varying degrees by tingling. In the event of compression, paralysis of the leg may occur, with difficulty in standing on the ball of the foot on the affected side. Axial flexion (of the spine) generally stimulates radiation, as does hip flexion or coughing and sneezing.
Sciatica, first and foremost a symptom
Sciatic nerve pain is a symptom in the same way as a cough, which may be caused by tuberculosis or a common cold! Studying the symptom guides the diagnosis. The same applies to sciatica. Irritation of this nerve may be the result of muscular compression along its path (most often in the gluteus medius) or joint compression (at the back of the head of the fibula); one of the roots may be irritated by a disc overhang or completely crushed by a herniated disc.
As you can see, for effective treatment, it is essential to determine the origin of the nerve's suffering. The therapist will try to determine the source of the pain.
Don't forget that, anatomically speaking, the last lumbar vertebrae (whose roots form the sciatic nerve) are in direct relationship with the pelvic organs, and consequently, visceral symptoms may be associated with sciatic pain, such as changes in transit or urinary frequency.
So be aware of any changes your body may be experiencing alongside sciatica, to help your therapist make the best diagnosis as quickly as possible.
How to relieve symptoms
Once a diagnosis has been made, supported by medical imaging, a number of therapies can provide relief, including osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture. In the case of acute suffering, it is advisable to combine anti-inflammatory treatment with manual therapy.
In the case of chronic pain, physiotherapy and regular exercise are recommended to maintain good axial mobility and tone, particularly for better lumbar support.
In such cases, energy and magnetotherapy can also help: there are magnetic lumbar belts which create a stable, continuous magnetic field locally, helping to relieve back and abdominal pain.
Laser treatment can also have the same benefit.
But whatever you do, don't leave pain lying around, as it's always a sign of suffering that needs to be addressed.
Discover our magnetic devices designed to help you relieve back pain naturally.