Sciatica and low back pain – All you need to know to sort it out

You may have heard of Sciatica or Low Back Pain, or been told that you have it. BUT do you really know what it is and what the cause is?

In this post I we will go over, common causes, misperceptions and finally, self-treatment techniques.

Sciatica is a buzz word used by a huge amount of back pain sufferers and medical professionals but is really an umbrella term and can be caused by a number of things:

– Tension on the sciatic nerve as it passes through the gluts by your Piriformis muscle.

– Compression on nerve roots as the exit the spinal cord by disc herniation.

– Compression or irritation by rough surfaces and extra bone growth (spondylosis or arthritis of the spine).

The symptoms of sciatica range from radiating pain down the buttock and leg to altered sensation in the leg and foot. Back pain may or may not be present.

Physio exercises and information on low back pain

It is very important that you see a good physiotherapist who can diagnose what is causing your low back pain and/or sciatica as this gives a better picture and leads to a more specific treatment approach.

A large proportion of “sciatica” pain is caused by Lumbar disc herniations which is where the disc bulges backwards into a spinal nerve due repetitive flexion (bending forward or slouching), compressing it and restricting movement and sliding of the nerve.


Self-treatment technique #1: Extensions in lying. In order to know whether it is a disc contributing to your pain, lie on your front with your hands under your shoulders like you are going to do a push-up.

In order to know whether it is a disc contributing to your pain, lie on your front with your hands under your shoulders like you are going to do a push-up. (Now remember not to push into too much pain here)
What I want you to do now is push your shoulders up, keeping your hips relaxed a hanging down. Hold this for 10 seconds 10 times and if this either decreases your pain, or decrease your leg pain and causes pain more centrally in the back then, most likely this is a disc problem which is helped greatly by doing this McKenzie exercise twice daily.

Tip: as in the picture above it is best to slowly progress this exercise, so begin only pushing up into the middle position if you have moderate to severe back pain and then progressing up over the next fortnight.

For more information on how this exercise was developed check out Physiopedia.

Self treatment technique #2: The exercises in this great post lay a great foundation to start rehabilitating your back and is an excellent place to start. They are also fantastic for all common causes of back pain!

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Disclaimer: It is important to stop this exercise if it increases back pain and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or you lose strength in your legs

About PhysioPrescription

Providing you with easy and practical self rehab exercises, tools and techniques so that YOU can reach your peak.
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