What is sciatica and how can you treat it?

What is sciatica and how can you treat it?


Do you have leg pain that worsens with back flexion, maybe it’s sciatica. But what is sciatica, and what could you do about it? Well, stay here because in this blog we’ll explain what sciatica is and what you could do about it.

What is sciatica?

So I mentioned sciatica, but what is sciatica or sciatic pain? To understand what sciatic pain is, you need to know about the anatomy we are dealing with. Sciatic pain is caused by an irritation of the bundles of, or irritation of the whole ischiatic nerve. The ischiatic nerve is coming out of the lower part of your lower back. And irritation along the way of this nerve can give you sciatic pain.

photo source: 123RF.com

But what can be the cause of this nerve irritation? Well there’re several causes for your sciatic pain, the first one is the most common and is the nerve compression caused by a herniated disc (see picture above). But spinal stenosis, so a narrowing of your nerve canal can also give sciatic pain in your leg. And another cause is an inflamed nerve caused by a compression of something different than spinal stenosis or herniated disc. Think about a bulged intervertebral disc, an inflammation of your SI joint, or from sitting too long on one buttock. In the last case, the ischiatic nerve that runs through the backside of your butt gets irritated from the compression forces of sitting down.

Diagnose yourself

So now we know what the different causes can be. Now we need to know if your pain is really a sciatic or compressed nerve pain. And I used the word compressed because every pain in your body is some kind of nerve pain. That’s because your nerves are always a part of your pain. Even when you’re experiencing pain that isn’t linked to tissue damage, your nerves are sending the signals through your body. So pain caused by a compressed nerve is way different than just normal pain.

So how can we tell if the pain you are experiencing is pain caused by a nerve compression in your leg or lower back. Well let’s say that the pain you’re experiencing is coming out of an irritated ischiatic nerve or bundles from it. If you have shooting pain in your leg, or you experience more leg pain than back pain, or your leg pain is radiating on the backside of your leg, or you feel a tingling or deaf sensation in the backside of your leg, the chances are higher that you’re experiencing pain caused by a compression of your ischiatic nerve or bundles from it. So what could you do about it? 

Treatment plan

As I mentioned before, there’re multiple reasons why you could have this sciatic pain. And every different cause needs a somehow different approach to get rid of. In this blog I’ll discuss the best treatment for sciatic pain caused by a herniated disc. 

The first piece of advice that you must follow is the fact that it is really important that you don’t irritate the nerve as much. But how do you know when you irritate the nerve? That is quite easy, if you’re experiencing leg pain or a tingling or deaf sensation or just your sciatic pain, you’re irritating the nerve. So try to stay active without causing your leg sensations to flare up. That’s the first thing to relieve your nerve pain coming from an ischiatic nerve compression. 

The second thing that you should do is to decrease the flexing movements of your lower back. If you flex your lower back, you’re putting tension on your nerve. And an irritated nerve doesn’t like to be stressed or compressed.

So these two things were more lifestyle modifications. But what kind of exercises should you do? The first exercise I’ll discuss is a regular prone lying motion. Come down in a prone position and lay down relaxed. You can already see that your lower back is somewhat in an extended position, so not in a flexed position. If this position is already somehow painful, try to lay down a pillow underneath your hips. The reason I want you to do this exercise is because I want to centralize your pain. So I want to bring the pain from your foot, calve, upper leg back towards your lower back. So if you feel like your pain is moving more upwards towards your lower back, you’re doing the exercise correctly

Prone lying position for sciatic relief

The second exercise is a puppy push up position. Lay down on your stomach and place your forearms on the floor so that your back is in a slight extension. Keep this position for ten seconds before laying down flat on your stomach before repeating the exercise. And make sure, we want your pain to move towards your lower back.

The third exercise is a prone push up. So now you’re going to push your chest up from the floor. We are still laying on our stomach, place your hands underneath your armpits. Push your chest up from the floor and keep it up for a couple of seconds. Come back down, make sure to fully relax, before pushing back up.

So these three exercises can help you with your sciatic pain caused by a bulged or herniated disc. Make sure that you progress with these exercises, so start with the first one and move up towards the second and third one. If you think you need more specialized advice regarding your physical complaint, consider booking an online appointment on our website.


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