Sciatic pain comes in different forms- some people report a stabbing pain in the lower back, while others feel areas of tingling or numbness down the leg.
The sciatic nerve comes out of the spine and runs down through the hips and down the legs, the ankle and into the feet. The nerve functions as an electrical conduit for most of the leg and foot. It sends information from the leg to the brain, as well as instructions from the brain to the leg. This is a really busy nerve.
What causes sciatica?
I am going to split this blog into two sections. Section one constitutes bone/disk issues, and section two, muscular issues.
- A bulging or ruptured disk. In this case the spine presses against the nerve. Treatment for this can be fairly complex and can range from surgery through to intensive physiotherapy.
- A narrowing of the spinal canal known as spinal stenosis.
- Bone spurs. Bone spurs are small bony growths that form along joints. These can be caused by arthritis. The spur can place pressure on the nerve.
- Certain tumors can place pressure on the nerve.
The above list constitute fairly serious medical conditions, and need to be looked at by medical professionals. An X ray or MRI will inevitably be ordered. The typical route would be to chat to your GP and get a referral to an orthopedic specialist.
Any form of surgery in this area will always be tricky. Do your homework when it comes to picking a specialist. Further comment on spinal issues such as these is beyond the scope of this blog.
The sciatic nerve as it passes through the hip area is roughly the width of your thumb. The most common form of sciatica that I see is from people who have tight muscles that put pressure on the nerve. In these cases the nerve is situated between the ischial tuberosity, (sit bone) and the greater trochanter (that is at the top of your femur and is typically felt as a bump on the outside of the hip).
There are two muscles that can tighten over the muscle and hence cause all sorts of mischief.
I have written an article on the muscle. You can click here for more info – Piriformis problems. The graphic below will give you an idea of how the piriformis muscle can tighten over the sciatic nerve.
You have 3 Hamstrings muscles per leg. Two stem from your sit bones and run past the inside back of your knee to the tibia and one, biceps femoris, runs from same spot down the outside back of the knee to the tibia. The nerve can get pinned down from the long head of the biceps femoris muscle. The nerve runs along the biceps femoris for a longer distance than the crossover section of the piriformis.
So, one should always look to free up the hamstring in question when it comes to this form of sciatica. Cognizance should be take to the fact that you might be suffering from tightening in two places, that of the piriformis and hamstring.
Sciatic pain must be taken seriously- if in doubt check it out. Any form of spinal failure must be dealt with properly. Do your research, go for a second medical opinion, you only have one spine.
Should the sciatic pain not emanate from the spine but rather from tightened muscles make sure to get both the piriformis and hamstring released. Click here for more details on what we offer – Massage at SBR Sport
Stretch on a regular basis. Here are stretches you can do for your piriformis and for hamstring muscles.
Piriformis stretch –
Hamstring stretch –
Keep your core strong. Sitting, driving, slouching, dropping your head to read your cell etc are recipes for spinal disaster. I believe that movement is your primary key to health.