I may get into trouble for saying this but every time you get pain shooting down your legs, medication is not the answer! Now I agree I’m not a Doctor but hey I’m a Physio who has seen very many people suffering from sciatic pain and helped them recover. In order to understand where I’m coming from, it’s important to first understand sciatic pain.

X ray image of a person with lower back pain

What is sciatic pain or sciatica?

So the sciatic nerve is pretty much the longest nerve in the body! It starts from the spinal cord in the lower back and goes all the way down to your big toe. In the process, it sends out branches to supply the nerves and muscles of your legs. Now if there’s anything causing pressure on the nerve then what do you think will happen? It’ll tell you that it’s getting compressed by sending you sharp pains down your legs. This is exactly what sciatic pain is. Sometimes, you can even feel tingling or pins and needles down the leg. It’s usually one leg or the other depending upon which side is affected. Also, the most common reason for sciatica is a bulging disc which pushes on the nerve. In saying that a lot of people incorrectly call any pain in the hip or thigh area as sciatica. It is only termed sciatic pain when the pain is literally running down the buttocks, into the back of your leg and foot.

Why pills alone can’t get rid of sciatic pain ?

pills, anti inflammatories, medication

Have you ever wondered what the pills actually do? Are they pain relievers? Or are they anti-inflammatories in order to reduce inflammation? Pain relievers mask the pain for sure. They can help to take the edge of the pain but how will they reduce the nerve compression? The whole idea behind pain relievers is so your body can cope with the pain and recover using other techniques that are designed to heal the body. Yes you guessed it right, it’s Physiotherapy! It’s designed to do exactly that! So it surprises me why every sciatic pain sufferer is not referred to Physio by their Doctors! How long do they expect you to keep taking medications for?

How does Physiotherapy treat sciatic pain?

I can tell you for sure that physios use techniques to improve joint movement. This increases the blood circulation through your low back area which helps in healing the inflammation. Because ultimately pain is a signal to the body that something’s wrong. Whether you’ve just injured yourself with lifting or it’s been repetitive injury over a period of time. There’s swelling or inflammation which is causing sciatic pain and needs healing. There are muscles that become so tight in order to protect the area from further damage that you can end up getting cramps. These muscles need to be released too and then strengthened up. This is precisely what Physios do. And I really wish other health professionals like doctors would make more of an effort to get the word out to people who are suffering. Becase sciatic pain can be debilitating. But there’s hope and there’s certainly a solution.