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Do you have sciatica?


Low back pain (LBP) is the fifth most common reason for GP visits and affects nearly 60-80% of people throughout their lifetime. Most people will suffer from lower back pain at least once in their life time. The pain usually last a few days for a minor injury and a few months for a more severe injury.

What is sciatica? Sciatica will present with pain in the lower back and at the back of the leg on the same side. It can be pain that stops in the glute or one that goes all the way to the calf or even the foot.
Do you have sciatica if you only have pain in your lower back? No. The sciatic nerve originates in the lower back and goes all the way down to the foot. When there is a pressure on the sciatic nerve you will then feel pain referring from the lower back down to the leg. You might feel some numbness or pins and needles. In severe cases you will have weakness in the muscles that the nerve is responsible for such as the hamstring and calf.
What can cause Sciatica? Sciatica can be caused by different reasons. The most common ones are: - Sitting down for many hours on a daily basis - lifting a heavy item - lifting an item with a twist - sport injury related
What can you do to help sciatica? 1. With sciatica I would like to let the nerve heal. In order to do that you have to try and reduce the pressure from the sciatic nerve. My first advice to my patients is to try and find positions where you don't feel the pain in the leg and stay there for most of the time. The location of the pain also gives me an idea of how much pressure there is on the nerve. The higher the pain the better (pain in the lower back is better than pain in your calf muscle). 2. Sleep well: our body heals itself in our sleep. Not being able to sleep because of the pain, makes the pain worse. Please speak to your pharmacist to help you regarding short-term medication that will help to reduce your pain at night. 3. Hot water bottle / pillow on your lower back- usually helps to reduce the severity of the pain. It is recommended to apply heat for 15-20 minutes each time.
When do you need to seek extra help? - If you are not getting better with the advice above. - If you are limited with your daily activities (sitting, walking, sleeping) and need to take time off work. - If you want to get back to your exercise routine and are not sure how to or when. Sciatica is treatable. There are bespoke exercises and stretches that can help your lower back pain and get you back to your daily routine.
Do you need an injection or surgery? Surgery is the last resort in case of sciatica. Most lower back pain and sciatic pain do resolve without any invasive intervention. In some cases, only when there is no improvement with physiotherapy treatment, I will then refer you to a spine specialist for further investigation.
I wish you well!

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