Wellness & Fitness

Sciatica: Myths you need to know

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What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is as pain resulting from pressure on the sciatic nerve that is formed by the union of five nerve roots from the lower spine. It passes deep in the buttock muscles and down to the back of the thigh to the heel and sole.

So, what are some common myths about sciatica and what’s the truth of the matter?

Myth 1: All shooting leg pain is sciatica. Pain shooting down the back of their leg may not necessarily come from an area being compressed from the back. Other things can give people leg pain.

Myth 2: If you have sciatica, you should stay in bed and rest. It is better to remain active and avoid excessive rest. Studies have found that there is little to no benefit to staying in bed compared with staying active.

Myth 3: Sciatica is a condition. Sciatica is a symptom that may be caused by several conditions. Most people assume that if they have sciatica they’ve got a compressed nerve in their back. Sometimes people can have pain from muscles in the buttocks or posterior hip. Similarly, just compression from that muscle could give them leg pain independent of what’s going on in the back.

Myth 4: We don’t know what causes sciatica. The fact is sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched or compressed, and that typically is caused by a bulging or herniated disk between the vertebrae in the lower spine.

It can also be caused by a bone spur, or a bony growth, on the spine itself or by spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. In rare cases, a spinal tumor can compress the nerve, causing sciatic pain.

Myth 5: Medication is the best way to provide relief from sciatica. Taking an analgesic or an anti-inflammatory is a short-term treatment, however, it doesn’t solve the cause of the pain.

Myth 7: Sciatica cannot be prevented

Physical activities that increase core strength and proper posture while working and when carrying out our daily activities have been proven as ways to reduce the occurrence of sciatic pain.

Remember this “True prevention is not waiting for bad things to happen, it's preventing things from happening in the first place”.

Mr King’ori is a Physical Therapist at Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre