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Stuart Fossella - Saturday, November 24, 2012 | Comments (0)
Posted 7 years ago
image of the distribution of pain originating from the sciatic nerve

Low Back Pain

Sciatica is the name given to the symptoms felt because of irritation to the sciatic nerve. The nerve runs from the low back all the way into the lower extremities-This is why people often feel symptoms at the low back and as far down the leg as the calf, ankle and foot.

Irritation of the nerve can be caused because of a bulging disc in the low spine. Sometimes referred to as a slipped disc. Discs in the spine can be considered to be gel like spacers between the vertebrae. If a disc becomes damaged and the outer edge becomes torn you may end up with a ‘bulge’.

Check out the following link for a 3D image of the Low Back including discs and nerves Healthline

A disc may bulge and trap a nerve because of damage caused by excessive bending and lifting, or sitting for extended periods of time with poor posture.

Symptoms can also be caused by other conditions including; arthritic changes to the spine, slipped vertebrae in the back (Spondylolisthesis) or spinal stenosis or narrowing.

Clinical Signs

  • Characteristic nerve pain, often described as feeling like an electric shock. Can be felt in the low back, or at any point between the low back and foot.
  • Pins & needles and numbness of the leg/foot with or without weakness in the foot/ankle.
  • Loss of Low Back movement, associated with stiffness.


  • In the early stages of injury cold and heat therapy can be useful.
  • Acupuncture is great for relieving pain.
  • TENS machines can help ease pain when outside of Physiotherapy treatment.
  • Your Physiotherapist may choose to ‘mobilise’ your spine to ease pain.
  • Soft tissue mobilisation is great at helping to release muscular spasm.
  • Therapeutic exercises help to restore movement and function.
  • Kinesio tape or rigid traditional taping is beneficial.
  • Rehabilitation when pain has settled is vital to prevent further episodes of Low Back Pain or Sciatica.


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