To effectively treat sciatica- its root cause must first be determined. This is the diagnostic process. A full medical history will be taken including physical tests. The results of these tests may illuminate the source of your sciatica.
Other diagnostic tests may be performed or requested by the osteopath depending on what he or she finds in the physical examination. Such tests may include:
X-ray to look for fractures in your spine
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) scan. These machines give much more clarity of detail of your spine, not only of te bones but soft tissues as well. They’re great for confirming the presence of a slipped disc.
Nerve Conduction Studies can tell us how well your sciatic nerve is conducting impulses. If you’ve got a kink in the garden hose the water doesn’t travel through, right? Well same is true if you have an obstruction on your sciatic nerve. No impulses can travel, therefore you can potentially expect numbness, tingling, and weakness of the muscles and skin that the pinched nerve supplies.
A Myelogram involves the process of injecting dye between the vertebrae to determine if a vertebrae or disc is causing the pain. Not used mush due to the favor of MRI and CT.
You may or may not be requested to have these tests- and you can still have sciatica treatment without them. Such tests are of no therapeutic value, only diagnostic.
How is sciatica treated?
The type of treatment required will be dictated by the actual cause of your sciatica; as I discussed in my previous post “What is Sciatica?”, there are many causes for the symptom of sciatica.
With osteopath treatment of sciatica, the general goal is to decrease pain and increase mobility. This may be achieved using a combination of trigger point release, spine manipulation and adjustment and specific stretching. Core function is also very important to assess in treatment of sciatica. Massage and acupuncture have also shown some good results in the treatment of sciatica. All of which we offer at Bodywise Osteopathy.
General advice would include: avoiding sitting for long periods and keeping generally active within the limits of your pain.
Medicines such as Neurofen and Voltaren are helpful to decrease inflammation and are over-the-counter meds. But for stronger anti-inflams, pain killers and muscle relaxants for treatment of sciatica, you will need to see your local GP.
Sciatic pain usually decreases over time and many people (50%) recover from an episode within six weeks.
Can sciatica be prevented?
Some sources of sciatica are not preventable, such as degeneration of discs, back strain due to pregnancy and accidental falls.
It may bot be possible to prevent all cases of sciatica, however you can take steps to protect you back and reduce your risk.
If you lift weight with good technique, keeping your back stiaghjt and bringing yourself up using your hips and legs, while holding the object close to your chest.
Use correct lifting technique no matter how light the object your lifting. Most people who seek treatment often can’t remember what they did to cause sciatica so don’t be fooled thinking you have to be lifting something heavy to get sciatica. You can get it lifting anything with poor technique. T’s the action and not the object that is often the problem.
As you needed another reason to stop smoking! Add to the list- disc degeneration. Another cause of sciatica.
Exercise regularly to maintain good muscle strength in you abdomen and and back. These muscles work to support your spine.
Good posture when sitting or standing are also helpful in reducing pressure in the low back. Have a read of my Tips for Good Posture post.
If you have a desk job- give yourself regular breaks as this causes increased pressure in the spine
If you think you need sciatica treatment call 1300 321 300.