Why suffer sciatica?

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

I wanted to write about this very common condition because I see too many new patients who come to me having suffered with this complaint for many months. Pain killers have limited effect and I regularly treat sciatica patients with great success.

So, what is sciatica?
Sciatica is the name given to any sort of pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve and felt in your bottom or back of your thigh.

Pain in the front of your thigh is generally not sciatica.

What causes it?
As the nerve begins its journey from the base of the spine through the pelvis, pain may be caused by:

  • A herniated disc – can compress the nerve root as it exits the spinal column
  • Reduced space around the disc – age and injury are often the culprit
  • The piriformis muscle (shown above) – undue contraction can compress the nerve as it passes under the muscle. Do you sit with your wallet in your back pocket?
  • Pelvic imbalance – this is often a significant cause.

Pelvic imbalance simply refers to a condition where the bones of the pelvis reposition causing irritation to the pelvic joints and surrounding tissues such as the piriformis muscle.

There are many reasons why we may suffer pelvic imbalance; falling on your bottom, being sat on by your horse (you may think I’m joking) or pregnancy.

During pregnancy, there is a very natural change in the body’s hormonal balance and one particular effect is greater laxity around the pelvic ligaments in preparation for childbirth. With this laxity comes the increased chance of sciatica.

So, I hope this has been a helpful insight into a common and easily treated condition, Ian.