Help for Sciatica pain

Keywords; help for sciatica pain, lower back exercises.

For the purist:

  • sciatica (noun)
  • sciatic (adjective)

But internet users like to google "sciatica pain" so sciatica pain it is. The consumer is always right!

What is Sciatica?

Help for sciatica pain is certainly relevant. With about 20% of folk having it at least once in a lifetime, and 5% of people having an attack of sciatica every year, sciatica cures abound. None work all the time.

The origin of the Sciatic nerve

There are two principle causes of sciatica:

  1. Chemical irritation of the sciatic nerve
  2. Pinching of the sciatic nerve

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, as thick as your finger and runs from the lower back to the foot.

Before thinking about how to cure sciatica you should understand first what it is, otherwise, if you don't do the right exercises for relieving sciatica, the miserable affliction will start all over again next week.

There are other rare causes such as tumors, but they really are very rare. If you have loss of bladder control, weight loss, cancer elsewhere, well, yes, the other causes of sciatica leg pain must be considered.

The sciatic nerve is made up primarily of three nerve roots located at the very bottom of the spine: primarily the so called lumbar 4, lumbar 5 and sacral 1 roots. They travel down the spine in what is called the horse's tail and then escape via a foramen.

This foramen, it's full name is an inter vertebral foramen, is a narrow tunnel between the vertebrae which enables the nerve root to escape from the spinal canal on it's way to the leg.

What is a foramen?

On each side of the spine a "intervertebral foramen" or IVF, or just "foramen" is located at each spinal level, strategically and vulnerably placed right between a facet joint and the disc joint. Both can be causes of sciatica by interfering with the nerve roots.


  • Chemical irritation
  • Both the facets and the vertebral end plates are made of hyaline cartilage, one of the tissues in the body that has no blood supply. They are supplied with nutrients and oxygen, and waste products removed, by fluid in and around the joints. HYALINE CARTILAGE ... If either the disc of the facet joints are fixated, the synovial fluids in the joints are not adequately refreshed causing a build up of waste products. This toxic soup of wastes is now known to be one of the causes of sciatica.

  • Pinching by a disc bulge
  • A bulging or slipped disc can physically press on the nerve root causing sciatica symptoms - pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the leg. Very occasionally it can also cause bladder problems. SLIPPED DISC SYMPTOMS Case File ...

  • Pinching by an arthritic facet
  • A chronically subluxated facet joint is starved of oxygen and nutrients. Experiments on white mice show that degeneration of the hyaline cartilage (scientists call it Immobilisation Arthritis) sets in within 13 hours. Gradually the shape of the facet changes, becoming large and flattened and allowing the vertebra to subluxate forwards (called an "antero-lysthesis") which can pinch the nerve root located just forward of the facet. Soft tissue cysts complicate the issue. Immobilisation Arthritis ...

    Sciatica Back Pain Treatment

    How to cure sciatica

    One's first thought should be of prevention before sciatica cures. From Chiropractic Tips you can get some very basic lumbar exercises. We all sit too much, our core muscles become weak and a few simple exercises done faithfully every day will do wonders for sciatica back pain treatment. Think Immobilisation arthritis prevention and sciatica stretches before sciatica nerve treatment!

    How to cure sciatica? Frankly, a "cure" doesn't exist. Once you've had a bad attack of sciatica, no matter what help for sciatic pain you seek, it will remain a vulnerable part of your body. Exercise, exercise, exercise... is your best bet. And accept that lifting pianos and the like is not for you.


    Help for Sciatica pain

    Your chiropractor will start with a posture examination. Do you have the sign of Pisa - look like a question mark? Do you have a short leg, what is known in Chiropractic jargon as a Leg Length Inequality? LEG LENGTH INEQUALITY ...

    The sign of Pisa

    Next your chiropractor will test your ranges of motion. Does bending forwards hurt? Most important, does bending increase the pain or cause a tight feeling in the leg? If so, you certainly need help for sciatica pain. If bending backwards, or to the side causes pain to radiate down your leg then you may have a condition called Lumbar stenosis. It too responds well usually to Chiropractic. Here one of our monthly newsletters. Have you signed up yet? CHIROPRACTIC HELP Lumbar Stenosis ...


    Help for sciatica pain

    Next your Chiropractor will be looking for "hard neurological signs". Can you stand on your heel, raising your big toe, can you go up and down several times on your toes, taking your full weight on one foot? Then the reflexes and tests for numbness or increased sensation in the skin. It's all quite involved and gives precise information as to which nerve root is affected. Sometimes it can be more than one level causing considerable scratching of the head! That's where a MR scan is so useful.


    Slump test for sciatica

    Your Chiropractor will do a series of orthopaedic tests to help in making a diagnosis before starting help for sciatic pain. The purpose of these tests is to stress the affected tissue, and they may cause some pain, and occasionally "after pain". The artful examination looks to make a diagnosis without actually aggravating the condition. For example the Slump test places increasing sciatic nerve stretches to determine whether the nerve is just irritated, or actually pinched. SLUMP TEST FOR SCIATICA ...


    Help for sciatica pain

    Motion palpation, a technique developed by belgian chiropractor henri gillet, is an important part of the chiropractic examination.

    Your chiropractor will carefully examine your spine and pelvis looking for fixated joints. It'a a difficult procedure, more of an art than a science perhaps, and requires many years to perfect. After nearly thirty five years in chiropractic I'm still learning.

    It's an absolutely vital part of my protocol, because my sciatica back pain treatment is based on these motion palpation findings.

    Why is that, you may well ask? Let's consider the lumbo sacral disc at the base of the spine. Traditionally, it's considered this bottom most joint will pinch the first sacral nerve root. That's because the herniation is usually central.

    However if the disc extrudes laterally into the foramen, then it will pinch the nerve root above, the fifth lumbar, and confuse the examining doctor. If you can't raise your big toe then he or she is likely to think it's not the bottom most disc, but one higher.

    If he's luckily enough to have a scan then all is revealed. However this is not normally the case, scans are very expensive. It's motion palpation that helps your chiropractor decide which level he should be adjusting. Adjust the wrong level and it just won't get better.


    Help for sciatica pain

    Here is where there is considerable variation depending on your condition, and your Chiropractor's preferred treatment protocol. One chiropractor might prefer using a Thompson drop treatment (my first choice), another frank manipulation, an activator, SOT pelvic blocks, McManus traction... all of these have their place, one perhaps more suited to your condition that another.

    REHABILITATION @ Exercises for relieving sciatica

    Lower back exercises ...

    Lower back exercises are vital to properly rehabilitate the injured joint, strengthen the core muscles and help prevent you joining that group of 5 percent of sufferers who will have an episode every year and eventually progress to surgery.

    In all honesty, I cannot guarantee it and, in fact, I think it's unlikely that lower back exercises can fix a sciatica. But they can do wonders to prevent the next bout of pain once your chiropractor has reduced the pressure on the nerve. No harm in trying them to see if you can get relief, though; perhaps for a  maximum of a week or two.

    Then say to yourself, honestly, is this improving? If not, well, you know what to do. It's time to get help for sciatica pain.

    Rule of thumb:

    • If you get pain in the leg, or a tight leg with forward bending then do the disc exercises on YouTube.
    • If you get pain in the leg whilst bending backwards then do the facet exercises. However, this is not always true; a prolapse into the foramen will give pain on extension. Be guided by your doctor who has the responsibility of making the diagnosis.

    Exercises for relieving sciatica

    In short, exercise is more for preventing the next episode than curing you of this one. I am particularly in doubt about the merits of sciatica stretches; if the nerve is tethered and you stretch it, further damage is likely.

    Useful links

    Have A Question about your lower back?

    I receive many questions about Chiropractic. It might be help with a spinal condition, but it might also be from a person who can't walk after a hip operation, or some such thing.

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    Do understand that lower back pain is extremely complex, so I can only give general guidelines. There's no substitute for a careful thorough chiropractic examination.

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    Interesting challenges of the day

    1. Mrs B has had one of the nastiest of conditions; vertigo caused by a disturbance in the inner ear. Falling repeatedly and vomiting she consulted her doctor but medication didn't help. After two sessions of the Epley manoeuvres she was 50 percent better. After two weeks she was 75 percent improved; no longer vomiting or falling. She's not enjoying the Brandt Daroff home exercises.

    2. Mr S, a 48 year old man, has right low back pain, groin pain and a numb feeling in his lower leg when he sports. For six months he's been off football. He too has two problems; a very treatable lumbar facet syndrome and a very serious blocked artery in the groin; it's called intermittent claudication. Smokers beware.  

    3. Mr S looks like the leaning tower of Pisa; he has a slipped disc at L5 making him lean towards the opposite side. It's called the postero lateral disc hernia; we'll fix it, but he has to stop for a week or two. Antalgias are serious so take them seriously. 

    4. Mrs V too has two conditions; a chronic low grade sciatica giving her an ache in the right leg, and a threatening Morton's neuroma. She's glad I'm back in Holland; chiropractic fixed it before, and we'll fix it again. 

    5. Mrs W is one of the lucky ones, says her doctor. I agree. He says only 40% of patients with lumbar stenosis have a successful operation. We fixed a nasty slipped disc three years ago, but it came back two years later; the surgeon did a fine job but she has a weak ankle now giving her subtalar joint pain; it's routine stuff. 

    6. I myself had an acute exacerbation of a femoral nerve lesion last year. One immediate treatment of the new strain by my colleague has fixed the pain in the lower back, but there's some residual numbness in the lower leg; no soaring tomorrow alas.

    7. This lady is a 86 year old woman with a 63 scoliosis. Chronic lower back has been her lot in life but she's well pleased with chiropractic and comes for chiropractic help once a month; some conditions you can never cure.

    8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.

    9. A 61 year old man with upper cervical pain yesterday; it's not severe but also not getting better of its own accord. He's afraid it may turn very acute as when I treated him three years ago. Since then it's been fine. 

    10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.

    11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

    12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.

    13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

    And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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