Can Osteopathy Treat Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain generated by the compression of the sciatic nerve in our body. The pain starts from the lower back, flowing down through the buttocks and thighs to the back of the knees. If you are wondering whether Osteopathy is a viable option for treating sciatic pain, rest assured.
In most cases of inflammatory sciatic nerve pain, Osteopathy can heal the pain in local and affected areas by decreasing muscle spasm, improving joint mobility, functional movement and lymphatic drainage of the lower limb and pelvic regions.
Identification of Sciatica with Osteopathy — Diagnosis
Sciatica is diagnosed first in order to understand, manage and alleviate the pain.
First, quickly take a look at the common symptoms of sciatic pain:
● Shooting pain through the buttocks, thigh area or calf lower legs or ankle
● Weakness and numbness in the leg muscles or foot
● Accentuated pain while sneezing or lifting heavy items
● Throbbing pain in the lower back, buttocks or legs while sitting
● Loss of bladder or bowel function along with ‘pins and needles’ pain
According to the level of pain, your medical history and initial diagnosis, your Osteopath will run a series of tests determining the type of treatment required. You might be referred to a GP in case of severe pain, who will in turn provide pharmaceutical pain relief and appropriate medical advice.
Sciatica and osteopathy are commonly associative terms that involve bringing back a patient on his/her toes with an exercise regime that restores mobility, postural strength and muscle activation. Part of the treatment also involves the use of ice packs, heat packs, nutritional supplements, taping or bracing, dietary support and strengthening programs.
Osteopathic Treatment of Sciatic Pain
Sciatica affects both men and women in the age group of 25–70 years old.Some common factors that might increase the chances of getting sciatic pain are smoking, being overweight, age, carrying heavy loads or sitting upright for long stretches.
Let us understand some of the common causes why sciatica affects the body:
Arthritis and Degeneration
Associative wear and tear in the spinal sacroiliac joints can cause narrowing of joint spaces between lumbar vertebrae (canal stenosis), and bone spurs which press on the nerves in the lower back.
Disc Bulge or Prolapse
Commonly known as a ‘slip disc’ or disc herniation, this causes pressure on the spinal nerves on the legs leading to sciatic pain
Bodily changes during this process cause muscle spam, joint sprains and nerve irritation
A sudden spasm in the lower back, gluteal region and hamstring can cause sciatic pain
The piriformis muscle located near the top of the hip joint goes into spasm and applies pressure on the sciatic nerve directly causing acute pain.
A condition where the slippage of vertical segments on each other affects the nerves and causes pain.
Tumour or Infection
These are the lesser common causes of sciatic pain, but a tumour or infection in a key area causing pressure on the nerves can give rise to acute sciatica
Osteopathy can works wonders when it comes to treating the initial pain through decrease in inflammation in affected areas. Once the pain has been managed through improvement of tissue sprains/strains, an Osteopathic approach will include moving on to the next step of recovery — exercises and rehabilitation.