KM: Casey, persistent pain is something that obviously we care a whole lot about at Kinetic Medicine. ‘Sciatica’ is something that we see often, the kind of radiating pain in the lower body and legs, can you tell us more about it?
CH: Yes, Sciatica is something we see a lot of, The Sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the body and is actually a combination of nerve fibres which branch out from the lower part of the spine before coming together to form the sciatic nerve. Everybody has one each leg.
KM: What sort of symptoms might someone have if the pain in their lower body was neuropathic pain?
CH: The sciatic nerve is responsible for helping you feel and move your legs. So if the nerve is affected common symptoms include numbness or tingling, heat radiating down leg feet or toes as well as muscle weakness. The complexity of nerves means that symptoms often vary a lot. Pain in one side of the buttocks, ‘pins and needles’ like pain down one or both legs, shooting pain which makes it difficult to bear weight on a leg, these are common descriptions from people with this kind of pain.
KM: Is it something to be worried about and what should they do?
CH: In my experience in working with people with sciatic pain, exercise therapy can help relieve symptoms and resolve an episode without medication, a combination of stretching and strengthening exercise can help relieve symptoms by changing the irritation behind some symptoms.
KM: What would be a normal time frame for something like this to improve in?
CH: Acute episodes can take 4-12 weeks to recover from. Symptoms can also be recurrent and symptoms can present and then dissipate over time. It’s good to get some expert advice if it worries you.
KM: If someone wanted to get help with this, what would it look like?
CH: Typically when I see patients with sciatica I assess which movements aggravate and which movements ease their pain, as well as discussing with patients what their symptoms are like. Then we’ll develop a plan specifically targeted for the individual. I work with the patient in finding strategies they can complete and, as treatment typically requires daily exercises, a plan is established as to how they’ll manage it all. Then we make simple steady changes, making adjustments to get the patient all the way to lasting recovery.
KM: Lastly, is there anything else someone with these symptoms should know or do?
CH: It’s important that people with this kind of pain stay active and move regularly. It’s not something that’s likely to get meaningfully better stuck in repetitive positions or trying bed rest.
KM: Thanks Casey!