Chronic Back Pain is a major problem for many people across Canada. Up to 25% of all the adult population in Canada has reported experiencing back pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the most frequent reasons for consultations.  Back pain isn’t a condition in itself, but is caused by underlying musculoskeletal dysfunction, the most frequent of which is sciatica. About 10% of all complaints of LBP (Lower Back Pain) are caused by the condition.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a form of lower back pain that radiates down the buttocks and one leg. It’s one of the key features of the condition that differentiates it from other types of lower back pain. The condition is caused by a “pinching” of the sciatic nerve which runs down the base of the spine into the leg. This pinching can be caused for any reason, but these usually involve dislocations or other musculoskeletal dysfunctions that place pressure on the nerve to generate pain.

Causes of Sciatica

Even though this pinching can be caused by a wide range of musculoskeletal problems, the most common of these include:

Slipped Discs

At times, due to damage or pressure the vertebral discs in your spine may slip and trap the sciatic nerve in between, pinching it. In worse case scenarios, the pain caused may be debilitating.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis syndrome is a condition characterized by the spasming and contraction of the tissues in the buttocks that places pressure on the nerve to cause sciatica.

Spinal Stenosis

In many cases of sciatica, the sciatic nerve is pinched between the spinal cord and the vertebrae because the space between these two is narrowed. This narrowing is also called spinal stenosis.

Common Symptoms of Sciatica

Sciatica doesn’t always show up as radiating lower back-pain, the back pain might begin later on and if you can identify the symptoms earlier, it might help for better treatment. These earlier and accompanying symptoms include: 

  • Numbness in the leg and lower back.
  • Tingling sensation in the leg.
  • Weakness in one leg that might extend down to the toes.
  • Pain in the leg that gets worse when sitting down.
  • Inability to move your feet and leg.

Treatment Options

Sciatica usually heals overtime and doesn’t usually require medical intervention. In combination with physical therapy and OTC painkillers, you can manage your symptoms until the pain is completely eliminated.

At home you ought to try the following steps to relieve the pain:

  • Use hot and cold packs
  • Perform stretching exercises as prescribed by your doctor
  • Try OTC painkillers to manage the pain

Your medical treatment options include:

  • Physical Therapy (PT)
  • NSAIDs with PT
  • Surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

At the Sports and Exercise Medical Institute in Toronto, we offer clients access to state of the art treatments for their musculoskeletal problems. We specialize in sports medicine and offer treatments like regenerative medical injections, acupuncture treatments and physical therapy for sciatica. Visit our website today for more information or to make an appointment with us at our clinics across Toronto.