The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, running from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks, down both legs and ending at your feet. Sciatica happens when something compresses or irritates the sciatic nerve, causing a pain to radiate from your lower back and down your leg to your calf. This can be mild to very painful.
The most common cause is a slipped disc, which occurs when one of the discs between the vertebrae is ruptured. Sciatica can also be caused by a number of different injuries, including arthritis, a sacro-iliac injury or a muscle tear in the lower back. Most cases will pass off without the need for treatment. Over-the-counter painkillers, exercise and hot or cold packs can usually offer relief. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to control the symptoms.
Osteopathy can also help with persistent sciatica. It uses musculoskeletal mobilisation to relax muscles and limber up joints to avoid further pinching of the sciatic nerve. Once the pain has subsided, exercise is recommended in order to strengthen the core muscles and decrease possible recurrences. These techniques help reduce the swelling and pressure around the disk that is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve root. They can also help to reduce contractions of specific muscles that may also be putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.