So, you've just woken up and your lower back is stiff and sore, as you get up you notice a pain running down from your back into your glutes, into your hamstrings and then even possibly all the way down into the hamstring. Maybe, you've been sitting down all day while working from home and as you get up you notice a similar sort of pain.
You start googling your symptoms and up comes the dreaded term 'sciatica.' As you continue reading you see more and more information about sciatica and you're confused. 'Will I need surgery?' 'How do i get better?' 'How long will this last for?' 'What's the best exercise or treatment for sciatica?'
So what is sciatica? Sciatica is radicular pain that comes from irritation to the sciatic nerve. It can be caused by many things. This radicular pain can be a burning/shooting or constant type of pain that generally radiates from the back and down the back of the leg. For many people it can be quite debilitating and have significant impacts on sleep and daily life.
Tips & Tricks
Tip #1 - Stay Calm
So what should you do? Well, the first thing to do is not to panic. Stress can create more tension and actually increase your pain/irritability levels. Sciatica can be quite painful at the best of times, but good news is that in nearly every circumstance surgery is likely never needed. Conservative management is generally the best. However, if all methods of conservative management have been used than surgery can be an option. However, it should be used as a last resort.
Tip #2 - There is no 'best' exericse
There is no 'best' exercise for sciatica. Online you will find a million videos showcasing this exercise and that exercise. But studies have shown there is not one that is the 'best.' This can create confusion as many people will try these exercises for no relief. The best thing to do is find whatever makes you comfortable and go with that.
Tip #3 - Rest can sometimes be best
Generally with low back pain physiotherapists will encourage a person to continue moving. However, with sciatica sometimes a small period of rest can be the best thing to do. If nerves are irritated sometimes rest and allowing them to settle can be the best thing to do. If rest is not your thing, find an activity that is comfortable and go with that.
Tip #4 - Find positions that are comfortable for you
Often sciatic pain can be worse in the afternoon and evening. During these periods, find positions that are comfortable and that reduce your pain. This can help with sleeping etc. Stretching is often good and can help to relax any tension in the surrounding area.
Tip #5 - Don't spend crazy amounts of money on gimmick treatments
Sometimes the best form of treatment can be a heat pack, hot bath/shower or even a gentle walk. Give these all a go before spending money on back arch supports or other types of products that may or may not work.
If you are uncertain about anything regarding your sciatic pain book in with one of the physio's here and we can assess what to do moving forward!