One day your cleaning up around the kitchen and you bend over to get a cup out of the dishwasher and bam- the pain hits. It comes out of nowhere. A sharp stabbing pain in your back that makes it hard to straighten back up. In fact you can’t fully straighten back up without bracing with your hands.
You take it easy the rest of the day and when you get up in the morning you notice pain not only in your back, but also traveling around the hip and down the back of the leg. You have a hard time driving anywhere and sitting at work just makes it travel further down your leg.
Does this sound familiar?
This was exactly what happened to Eliane. She came in to see me in a great deal of pain – back pain so bad that she couldn’t even get out of bed by herself in the morning, (not without struggling for 20 minutes anyway!).
She thought it would be better the next day, but it wasn’t. She decided to leave it a little longer as she didn’t want to bother her doctor and thought if she just rested for a few more days, the pain would ease off.
The two other times this happened- it worked itself out after a few days.
Two months past and Elaine was still suffering. This is when she called me because she was having restless nights, couldn’t concentrate at work, and even had developed a slight limp. There were a few days that she just had to leave work early because the pain was shooting down her leg so strong.
This is what we call a case of sciatica. This condition is quite common and one of the most common conditions we see at Simply Physio.
Sciatica refers to a large nerve, the sciatic nerve, that exits from your lower back and travels down the back of your leg. When this nerve gets irritated you really notice it. Many people call it a pinched nerve. But usually it is just some pressure around the nerve that causes it to become inflamed. Often numbness and pins and needles can accompany the pain.
If it were to worsen- then the nerve can literally become compressed. A compressed nerve is a serious medical condition. If a nerve remains compressed for too long, it can become permanently damaged.
The pain from Sciatica is often so excruciating it makes it almost impossible to get out of the house, drive to the shops and even sleep comfortably – and nearly always gets worse when you sit.
This is the one thing that makes sciatica worse- sitting.
But there are things you CAN do, such as specific exercises to help you get back to feeling healthy and on your feet again without worrying that your back is going to put you out.
3 Tips to Try:
- Try bending backwards. It may hurt at first but work slowly into it and it should get easier. You can do this laying on your stomach and pressing up, or by standing and placing your hands on your butt and bending backwards.
- Avoid sitting for more than 15 minutes. If you do have to sit- don’t slouch and get some good back support.
- If symptoms are really bad- you might need to rest on your back with a pillow under your knees. Avoid curling up in the fetal position.
To put it simply – sciatica is a painful and life-limiting condition that can happen as a result of not getting your back pain treated appropriately as soon as the pain strikes.
If you are currently suffering from sciatica- don’t delay getting help. If resting and taking it easy for a few days doesn’t clear it up. Then call a trusted physical therapist to help.