Sciatica – A Symptom or a Problem?

Human body is perhaps the most unique creation of God. It acclimatizes itself to the surroundings and environment it lives in; gives you signals every time it needs attention and even heals wounds and pains with its own strength. It is only when it has exhausted all its strength that it seeks help – this is why it is extremely important for us humans to hear and understand our body.

These supposed symptoms are what lead you to doctors who eventually help treat the problem. But what happens when you ignore these symptoms?

Let me tell you a story from the 1990’s about an old man who often complained of shock like sensation in his leg. This pain was so excruciating that the 60+ year old man was not able to walk, sit and stand like others at his age. He would often sit with one leg bent and the other extended. Back in those days, there was no Google and very little information about posture, and perhaps little information about the name of problems. Extremely dedicated to his job, he never looked out for help from doctors, because of the supposed lack of treatment to such a problem, and the belief that surgery would be dangerous for him at this age. These myths are prevalent in society even today and many continue to suffer the pain in this scare.

This gentleman had a medical condition called Sciatica, a pain that extends from the hip, back and outer side of the leg. The real question is can it be cured?

Here’s the good news – the condition of Sciatica can be relieved through conservative methods and Physiotherapy, without surgery! Moreover, Sciatica is only a symptom. It could be caused by the compression of the spinal nerve root in the lower back, where the sciatic nerve might get pressed between the vertebrae in the lower spine. The piriformis muscle can also irritate the nearby sciatic nerve and cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot (similar to sciatic pain). While there maybe varied reasons, one needs to look into whether it is an acute or a chronic problem; acute problems may take 6 weeks to recover while chronic problems might take a little longer. Of course, age, lifestyle, nutrition / eating habits play a vital role in speeding up the recovery process. This holistic treatment is mandatory for the individual to get back on track else the problem may come back.

Post recovery, it is essential for individuals to continue a set of exercises 4-5 days a week only to ensure that the body never gets back to the problem stage again. Needless to say, it is good practice to incorporate a few exercises in one’s daily life so as to stay healthy, whether you have a pain/problem or not.

While everyone is bouncing back during these trying times, they’re also complaining of stiffness and pains owing to these long hours of sitting. Hence the need for a more disciplined lifestyle with a balance of work and the right exercises to stay physically healthy, leading to positive outlook towards life in general.

Reminded of the old gentleman from my childhood days, led me to think about the paradigm shift in technology that has allowed us to understand the signs, symptoms and treatments of many physical problems, all at the click of a button. But is this entirely reliable? Or does it create a sense of anxiety for many? A doctor takes his time to examine and diagnose the problem and so the information available on public platforms must always be validated by a medical practitioner. So next time, seek advice from the experts in the field, while keeping in mind what your body is telling you, half knowledge never does any good!

Published by

Dr. M.R Zulfi

Director and Sr Consultant Physiotherapist. Physio Active Pvt Ltd.