Sciatica

Pain from the back is referred into the leg, sometimes as far as the foot, with or without pins and needles and numbness.

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Symptoms

Sciatica usually radiates down the back of leg although can also radiate down the front or side of the leg. The intensity can be mild to severe and is often described as burning or sharp shooting pains. Pain can go as far as the ankle or into the foot and toes with or without pins and needles and sensory disturbance.

Cause

Sciatica which extends below the knee is usually nerve irritation caused by a herniated disc (slipped disc). Pain extending to the knee can be caused by tight muscles or the sacroiliac joint. 

Prevention

Sciatica can be prevented if you look after your back. Staying fit and taking some form of regular exercise will help along with keeping your core stability muscles strong and your back as flexible as possible. 

Treatment

Physiotherapy will help get you back to full fitness and work as soon as possible. Returning to work will often help to reduce pain by improving your mobility and also provides a distraction from pain. Research has shown the quicker you improve your mobility, the quicker you recover and the less likely you are to develop chronic (persistent) back pain.

Physiotherapy can be in the form of spinal manipulation or mobilisation, exercises or soft tissue mobilisations and myofascial release. Early treatment by a physiotherapist is advised to get you back to normal as soon as possible.

Preventing recurrence

Once you have had one episode of sciatica, it is possible to have another. Keeping your back strong and continuing with the exercises given to you by your physiotherapist will help.