Your Sciatica Can’t Be Cured Because It’s NOT Sciatica
Written by James Tyrell-Nestor on 4th April 2016.
In the last ten years I can genuinely say I have never treated client with Sciatica. Yet, I have a 100% success rate in achieving pain free results for clients who have been diagnosed by their GP’s as having Sciatica.
It raises the question:
If you are told you have Sciatica and the treatment you are having through traditional healthcare is still leaving you with the same symptoms, or your scan results cannot identify how to
address the problem – do you really have Sciatica?
Is it possible that you in fact have something else that replicates the symptoms of Sciatica, with the root cause being elsewhere in the body?
In the last ten years, every single client of mine has, in just a few sessions, walked out of my treatment room 100% pain free, whether they have had failed surgery in the past or seen numerous Practitioners with no results.
How? Because although they had similar symptoms, not a single client had Sciatica – in the true meaning of the word. To explain in more detail, let’s first take a look at what Sciatica actually is and see if you recognise any of these symptoms…
What Is Sciatica?
Strictly speaking, Sciatica is when your Sciatic Nerve is impinged (pinched) by one of the disks on your Lumber Spine. A phrase you may hear from your GP is Degenerative Disc Disease. This means that the disks a slowly weakening over time which is actually a natural part of ageing and something all of us go through.
The word “disease” can sound alarming but it really is just a way to describe the ageing process and it is not actually a disease in the popular sense of the word.
So let’s clear this up. Sciatica occurs when your Sciatic Nerve is pinched somewhere in your Lumbar Spine (lower back). This pinching causes pain throughout the whole nerve which can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Lower back pain.
- Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting.
- Hip pain.
- Burning or tingling down the leg.
- Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot.
- A constant pain on one side of the rear.
- A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand up.
Looking at those symptoms you would assume your diagnosis is correct and that you definitely have Sciatica. But look at this incredible Sciatica Fact:
“There are 1.5 Million Lumbar MRI Scans in America to determine the cause of Sciatica in the spine.
1.2 Million of those scans come back negative – showing the symptoms are not being caused by a spinal issue.”
Sciatica Treatment & Why You’re Still In Pain
Step 1: Live With It
You will likely be told that your symptoms will improve on their own over a period of 2-6 months. This means that you have to live with the pain which usually gets worse over time and hope that you improve over the coming months with as little disruption to your daily life as possible. If you’re one of the lucky ones then good for you. If like most people, you are still in pain then read on.
Step 2: Physiotherapy for Sciatica/Scans
If (and most likely when) your symptoms persist you will then be offered an alternative solution which is either Physiotherapy through the NHS or medication. It is common that medication has to be increased over time and patients know that this is just a block to the pain rather than a solution that addresses the root cause. Traditional healthcare has a low success rate in the treatment of Sciatica (recent studies show) with little improvement in symptoms after 12 months in around half of cases.
Step 3: Sciatica Surgery
Surgery is offered in prolonged cases and the aim of the surgery is to address the spinal alignment issues that are causing the disk degeneration or impingement of the Sciatic Nerve. I also know many cases where the scan results actually didn’t show exactly where or why surgery was needed but due to the life changing pain that the patient was suffering, surgery was the only option when looking at this from a traditional healthcare view point.
“The Site Of Pain Is Not The Site Of The Problem.”
Now don’t get me wrong – people can experience improvement through these three steps however you will find it is rarely a 100% pain free result. This is because in the UK everything is studied in parts. You have back pain specialists, wrist/hand specialists, shoulder specialists, knee specialists and more…
Your back specialist probably won’t think of the linking parts elsewhere in the body that cause this pain. What if the actual impingement is elsewhere in the body rather than just the lower back?
Is this possible? YES! In every case I will begin by treating the one area every time and symptoms either disappear completely or by the majority.
Let me introduce you to Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis Syndrome is a relatively new term used in the medical world and it is a rather complex condition where the Piriformis muscle, which sits underneath your Gluteus muscles, pinches your Sciatic Nerve. And guess what?
“Symptoms are almost identical to Sciatica.”
In 25-30% of people, the Sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle rather than sitting behind it. These people are more prone to Piriformis Syndrome because any inflammation or tightening of the muscle will always impact the Sciatic Nerve.
So in short, the reason your Sciatica symptoms do not respond to Sciatica treatment is because it is the wrong treatment! You need to treat this as Piriformis Syndrome. Now unfortunately this is still a complex condition and many healthcare professionals will still tell you that it is difficult to treat – however at least they are looking in the right place!
Here is a short video explaining Piriformis Syndrome and it’s confusion with Sciatica.
How Do You Treat Piriformis Syndrome?
The Piriformis muscle is not the only muscle that is effected most of the time. So it is not a simple case of treating one muscle.
Step 1: Identify the Underlying Root Cause
In most cases you need to work out why the Piriformis muscle is in spasm in the first place. It’s role in the body is to make very specific movements so we would first look at your posture and identify the postural imbalance that is forcing these specific movements to occur much more often that they are designed to.
This will show very clearly that by correcting the postural imbalance you can allow the muscle to return to its normal function and massively reduce it’s work load. This will stop it going into spasm due to over use.
Step 2: Release – Fascia
The first actual hands-on treatment is to release the Fascia around every muscle from your lower back down the affected side of the body. Mainly focusing on the Gluteus area and also including the lower back, Hamstring muscles and Calf muscles.
This release will create space around the muscles and also separates the fibres within the muscle tissue so that we start to create space around the Sciatic Nerve path. This is a very skilled process and nothing like you will have experienced before. It is a very direct and quick way to dramatically improve your symptoms and most clients will achieve a drastic reduction in their pain from this one treatment alone.
Step 3: Release – Muscle Spasms
Now we would perform some direct techniques on the Piriformis muscle and surrounding muscles to take them out of their state of spasm. This again is a very direct technique and you can feel your Practitioner connecting directly to the affected muscle. Over a few minutes you can feel the muscle change it’s state and start to soften into its relaxed state. This let’s go of the Sciatic Nerve.
Step 4: Address The Root Cause
Over a number of sessions we would continue to release Fascia and muscles to bring you out of pain. Once this is done we will then go back to the postural imbalance that we identify during your assessment.
For the results to last long term we need to make sure that you Piriformis muscle doesn’t need to constantly overload. Myofascial Release Techniques are used to bring your Pelvis back into it’s correct position and free your Piriformis muscle from it’s work load.
Pain Free Results
Now that the Sciatic Nerve is freed of Fascia and is no longer being impinged, and your corrected posture means the right muscles will be doing their rightful jobs – you can go back to living your life free from pain.
If you have questions regarding your Sciatic Pain or Piriformis Syndrome please get in touch. I will be happy to advise from afar by recommending self treatment tips or you can discuss treatments with Physology.
Latest posts by James Tyrell-Nestor
- Your Sciatica Can’t Be Cured Because It’s NOT Sciatica - April 4, 2016
- What Does My Body Look Like To You? - March 23, 2016
- What Is Fascia? - March 9, 2016