Sciatica is one of those elusive things that every adult thinks they know what it is, knows someone who has struggled with it, or has dealt with some type of it in the past.
So what really is sciatica anyways?
True sciatica is caused by compression on the sciatic nerve, and is marked by numbness, tingling, burning, aching, sharp, searing, or fiery pain in the low back and down the back of the leg.
That’s great and all, but how do I fix it?
Well, that’s a complex question, such a complex question that I’ll only be able to touch the surface. So read on and enjoy! :)
Sciatica is an umbrella term. It is a label given to a variety of symptoms from a variety of causes. So if you tell a practitioner “I have sciatica,” there is no one way to fix it. This is because the label of “having sciatica” simply describes the symptoms you feel, not what is causing them. And even beyond that, there is a large spectrum of things that fall under sciatica, so it likely doesn’t even really describe your symptoms that well. An example we can all relate to is a tooth ache. When we say we have a toothache, that describes the symptom we feel, not what the problem is. The dentist does not “treat our toothache,” nor do they diagnose us as having “toothache.” Rather whatever is causing that ache. Maybe a cavity. And then furthermore, how they treat the cavity may vary.
Sciatica is a symptom, not a diagnosis!
Because of that, we need to find what the issue is. Why is your sciatic nerve feeling the need to give you sharp searing pain down your leg?
Likely it’s compression. Nerves hate compression. But maybe it’s traction? How do you know, until you test it?
Our therapist Micah uses techniques learned in Europe to test whether the nerve is under tension or compression, and which way it’s being pulled or pushed. Then the challenge is to follow that back to the structure causing the issue. We want to correct the biomechanical imbalance that is irritating that nerve. This could be a muscular imbalance, this could be a misalignment issue, or it could even be an issue with something called your tentorium cerebri. This is a fancy name for the suspension system of your whole nervous system. You see, all your nerves are connected. It is one solid piece. That means that if your wrist is taking up all the tension on the nervous system, the leg will have no slack to be able to take up. This can cause over stretching of the sciatic, leading to pain. The tentorium (or tent for short) is what takes up the tension and gives it out to your whole nervous system. If it doesn’t function properly, your nerves will have no mobility. No mobility makes them more likely to have issues.
Sciatica is a symptom, for a complex dysfunction with many layers, rooted in an inability for your nerves to move freely.
I believe that everyone is different, and their body needs to be specifically tested to find and correct their dysfunctions, not use a cookie cutter approach that may or may not work.
Written by Micah Reim- Certified Athletic Therapist