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Sciatica pain is an unwanted lower back problem that can feel like a mild ache, burning sensation or even an excruciating pain similar to that of an electric shock. If you have pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine down to your buttocks and back of your leg on one side of your body, you are more than likely suffering from lumbar radiculopathy, commonly known as sciatica.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica pain is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve and is usually caused by a compressed nerve in the lower spine. It’s this nerve that controls several lower leg muscles and gives sensation to most of the lower legs, including the skin of the feet.

It’s estimated up to 43% of the population will be affected by sciatica at some point in their lives and it most likely to occur around the age 40 to 50. People who experience sciatica usually get better within a few weeks. However, for some the pain from an irritated nerve can be debilitating. It’s always recommended to visit your GP should the pain continue or become unmanageable to rule out any possibility of a serious medical concern.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

The most common symptoms of sciatica can include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Burning sensation or tingling down one leg
  • Pain in the back of one leg which is worse when sitting down
  • Difficulty in moving the leg or foot
  • Constant pain on one side of the buttocks
  • Shooting pain

Treatment for sciatica

The good news for sciatica sufferers is that there are many treatments available. These treatments are designed to relieve pain and restore normal back functions, bringing back full movement.

For acute sciatic pain, heat and/or ice packs can help reduce leg pain if applied for around 20 minutes, repeated every two hours. Some people find relief from heat, and for others the ice packs work better. The two can be used in rotation – it’s about finding what works for you.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can also help reduce inflammation which can contribute towards sciatica pain.

Light exercise including gentle stretching and walking can be useful in relieving pain. It might be tempting to lie down for long periods of time but this will not help sciatica pain long-term.

For chronic sciatica pain it’s advisable to use the methods listed above in the first instance. Once the pain and inflammation have settled, visiting a physiotherapist can help with the rehabilitation process.

Physiotherapy for sciatica

Physiotherapy should be the most important aspect of a sciatica treatment plan as patients recover faster when taking part in a program of gentle exercise.  

A physiotherapist will prescribe the best stretching, low-impact aerobic conditioning and strengthening exercises to restore the normal range of movements, flexibility and posture specifically for you.

At the Rogers Regenerative Medical Group, based in Harley Street, a tailored physiotherapy program can help patients return to their normal lifestyle as well as help prevent further sciatica attacks.

If you would like to treat sciatica, or to find out more about physiotherapy, please contact the Dr Ralph Rogers team on +44 (0)20 7112 5400 or visit the website: https://rrmg.com/

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