Category Archives: sciatic nerve pain

Sciatica Treatment

Sciatica treatment usually involves pain killers or epidural injections. The focus is on relieving the pain to let the body sort itself out. And sciatica sufferers know all about pain. It’s excruciating. It can keep you awake at night. Or keep you down on the floor all day, afraid to move for fear of pain, #incapable of even the most basic of tasks.

Sciatica sufferers, and I was once one myself, know all about pain. Many sufferers have done a fair deal of investigation into the anatomy of the sciatic nerve. They know that when it’s compressed by muscles or disks, it can cause pain. 

But after you have been to see a doctor to rule out serious underlying issues, the most important question you can ask, the question that will help you get relief from the pain and never get it again, is this:

Why does the sciatic nerve get compressed in the first place?

Answering this question with, “a bulging disk”, which is the most common cause for sciatica, only raises another question: Why would the disk bulge?  Before I answer that, let’s just quickly go over the anatomy again.

Why sciatica treatment often fails to address the cause

At its thickest point, the sciatic nerve is the thickest nerve in your body. It can be as thick as your baby finger. In addition to this, it has multiple connections, each of which can easily get compressed or pinched by the surrounding bone, disks and tissue. 

The sciatic nerve has many vulnerable points from the L4 vertebrae right down to the coccyx, where it’s exposed between the vertebrae in the column as shown here:

Image depicts where the sciatic nerve can be compressed

 

Our spine, including the vertebral disks, is a living, moveable, organic thing. It can lengthen, it can compress, and it can flex, all depending on what we’re doing. When we move unnaturally, we add tensions, strains and compression to our body. This alone is enough to cause pain; make a tight fist for five minutes and see how that feels — it hurts just as much when we tighten our lower back muscles. But while tension can hurt us in and of itself, it can do more than that to our structure.

Treating sciatica by releasing tension

Clenched muscles compress our spine. Muscle tension can squeeze the nerve. Or, more commonly, put so much force on the disks that they bulge, which then presses on the sciatic nerve.

The nerve also passes between two vertebrae in at least two locations, so if there’s excess tension in the body, those vertebrae are squeezed closer together by muscle tension, increasing the chance of the nerve being pinched between muscle and bone.

There are many ways in which tension can cause sciatica.

Bulging disks don’t usually just come out of nowhere. Poor habits, such as moving unnaturally or with excess effort, can put massive forces on localised areas. When we move unnaturally and out of balance, it adds forces to your body and creates muscle tension, and this excess force is what herniates disks, which then press the nerves causing pain.

Sciatica treatments often focus on treating the symptoms of sciatica, i.e. the pain, without addressing the underlying cause — our movement habits.

Sciatica treatment that addresses the underlying cause.

When you’re considering the cause of sciatica, it’s not merely a pinched nerve. That’s usually just an effect…  I address the way that you move, identifying how postural tension and poor movement habits can indirectly pinch the nerve.

poor movement habits can cause sciatica

People often recommend core strength exercises as a possible treatment for sciatica, but if anything this will just add more tension on the muscles of your system and likely exasperate the issue by further compressing the spine. It just doesn’t make sense…

The other common cause of sciatica is poor movement habits. It’s common in western cultures for people to “bend from the waist”. However, there is no real joint in the waist. Many people bend in the spine instead of their hip joints.  Our robust, flexible spine can put up with abuse for years — but it is not a joint. When we bend from our spine instead of our joints, muscles tense and the disks can bulge, eventually leading to sciatica.

Book a session for sciatica

It’s possible to release tension in your body by learning to move more naturally. I am a teacher of the Alexander Technique and I use this, along with ‘LearningMethods’, to teach people how to ‘let go’ fully of any unnatural muscle holding patterns or imbalances, to relieve pain. 

 

To find out if I can help you, or to book a consultation, please contact Andrew on 087-9387302. Or email andrew@amonaghan.net

 

Note: You should always seek medical advice if you feel back pain to rule out serious underlying issues. Up to 1-2% of sciatica cases can be caused by serious underlying issues which require medical attention. However,  if your doctor has ruled out any serious underlying cause of the back pain, it’s highly likely that the cause is muscular tension or poor movement habits.

Image depicts where the sciatic nerve can be compressed

The Sciatic Nerve

The sciatic nerve is vital to the functioning of your legs. The nerve is like the information highway for your sense of feeling and movement, connecting the nerve-endings of your leg’s skin and muscles to your brain.  

It is the longest, thickest nerve of your body. At its thickest point, it is about the width of your little finger. The nerve emerges from your lumbar area and sacrum and runs right down the leg. 

This is an excellent video showing how the nerve exits the spinal column and sacral area:

 

What causes sciatic nerve pain?

We experience sciatica when the sciatic nerve is compressed or inflamed. This is usually due to poor postural habits or excess muscular tension in our body. The pain starts where the nerve gets pinched; most often near the nerve’s base, around the pelvis and lumbar area. Here, the nerve can get sandwiched between muscle, bone or discs (between L4 right down to S5). 

The strong buttock muscles can also compress the nerve. A postural muscle called the ‘piriformis’ can squeeze the nerve when overly tensed. When this happens, the symptom may be called ‘Piriformis Syndrome‘. 

What causes pain in the sciatic nerve?

It’s a mistake to believe the nerve itself causes your pain. While the pain does, of course, come from the nerve, the nerve doesn’t cause pain because it’s ‘bad’ or in need of ‘treatment’.
We experience nerve pain when a nerve is compressed (or in very rare cases damaged).  In other words, the pain we get is just a symptom.  When we accept this, the next logical question is what is causing the compression.

Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture of you as a functional whole, we start to see that, excluding external factors, there are only three main ways to compress the nerve. Either muscular tension or some other tissue such as bone or disk.

In the majority of cases, the pressure is almost always down to how a person is moving or functioning in their daily life. A bulging disk may be pressing on the nerve, but again this leads us to ask — why would a disc bulge? This brings us back to muscle tension and unnatural body mechanics.

How I help people overcome pain in the sciatic nerve

By learning how to move more naturally, the way you did when you were a child, you can alleviate the imbalances, pressures and strains that generate excessive muscle tension. When you move in balance, your muscles and spine naturally decompress. Decompression means there’s more space around your sciatic nerve — it is no longer pinched, and the pain goes away.

In other words, unnatural movements can cause sciatic nerve pain, and re-learning how to move naturally is the solution.

For more information, or to book a consultation, please contact Andrew on 087-9387302. Or email andrew@amonaghan.net

Identifying the symptoms of sciatica

Sciatica Symptoms

How To Identify Sciatica’s Symptoms

Sciatica symptoms can be excruciating. During a flare-up, the feelings
can leave you isolated, out of work and crippled for up to 2 weeks at a time.

When people first experience sciatica, the symptoms can be weak and hard to identify. So here’s a quick run-down so you can identify the pain and can decide what’s the best course of action.

The most common sciatica symptoms include:

  • A radiating pain around the lower back.
  • The pain can also radiate down the back of the leg (it’s usually only felt on one side)
  • The pain can radiate down to the knee, as well as down the shin into the foot.
  • Symptoms can also include daring, shooting pain, pins and needles, a sense of numbness and in extreme cases, may cause a loss of bowel control.

What to do if you’re getting these symptoms

For the majority of sciatica and lower back pain sufferers, up to 99% of all cases are debilitating painful, but safe and harmless. I can help with these majority of cases. They are most often the result of poor movement habits that compress the spine or surrounding tissues,  forcing compression of the nerve or bulges a disk near the nerve, which then presses against the nerve and causes sciatic nerve pain.

However, for a small number of cases, about 1%, the cause of sciatica can have more serious underlying issues. For this reason, you should consult a medical professional to rule out more serious issues before seeking alternative sciatica treatment.

However, if you are diagnosed with something like a bulging disk or ‘non-specific mechanical back pain’ which is compressing your nerve, you are usually better off with treatment such as Alexander Technique. If this is the result of your scan, it is not something to be worried about (You can read more about why you shouldn’t worry about non-specific back pain).

If you have non-threatening symptoms, a good doctor will likely advise you against drugs or surgery. The research shows that painkillers do not work for sciatica. And surgery does not provide long-term relief.  

In other words, you are much better off tackling the root cause of sciatica, which is usually down to how you move and operate in your daily life.

How I can help

I work by helping you identify and correct unnatural movement habits (how you bend, how you sit, how you sleep, how you stand, etc.).

To further discuss your own case or to book a consultation, please contact Andrew on 087-9387302. Or email andrew@amonaghan.net

How to deal with sciatic nerve pain

Sciatic Nerve Pain

What causes sciatic nerve pain and how can you treat it?

Do you suffer from sciatic nerve pain? Sciatica comes with many symptoms; whether get throbbing lower back pain, shooting pains down your legs when you’re sitting or standing, burning or tingling sensations. Some people feel a sense of loss of strength or a feeling of numbness.  You can read more about sciatica’s symptoms here:  http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/sciatica-symptoms

The most important thing to take in is that sciatic nerve pain may have symptoms that go from your lower back all the way down to your feet, but the cause of these symptoms is happening indirectly. Let me explain.

 

How I can help you to relieve sciatica — permanently

The important thing to realise about sciatica, as well as any other kind of nerve pain, is that in the vast majority of cases, as many as 97%, the pain is merely a symptom. The pain happens because the nerve gets compressed as a result of muscular forces or a mechanical issue.

In other words, the pain may be coming from a nerve, but the nerve itself is not the problem. The pain is generated indirectly by whatever is compressing or impinging upon the nerve.

In most cases, unnecessary, excessive muscle tension, as well as poor body habits, cause sciatica symptoms. For example sitting or standing with excessive muscle tension due to imbalances.

I work to help you identify strains, as well as abnormal movements which can cause this compression of the nerve. For example, a common issue is the around the L3-L4 vertebrae, also L1-L2 or L4-L5. These are vertebrae that are commonly compressed when people are bending unnaturally or adding excessive, unnatural muscular forces into this area of their back. I can help you to release this tension, so that the muscles release, the spine lengthens and this all decompresses the area around the nerve.

For more information, or to book a consultation, please contact Andrew on 087-9387302. Or email andrew@amonaghan.net