What is Sciatica? Sciatica Treatments in Reno, NV

Sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve as it travels through its pathway. The path begins in the lower lumbar spine, travels thru the buttocks, down the back of the thigh, and technically ends where it splits into 2 other nerves (the tibial and peroneal) which go all the way down to the foot.

What causes sciatica?

Some event or repetitive activity or prolonged activity can cause irritation to the nerve. Usually there is compression or narrowing of the space where the nerve travels. For example, prolonged sitting can cause the sciatic nerve to be irritated, especially if you are sitting in a crooked position or slouching or arching/perching too far forward. And lifting can be a big provoker to the nerve. Sometimes it is just tight muscles causing the compression, like the piriformis muscle, which is a muscle deep in the gluts/buttocks. Sometimes this is called piriformis syndrome. And sometimes a disc moves out of its space with certain movements and pushes/ rubs into the nerve. The disc may be “herniated,” “slipped,” or “bulging.”

What are the symptoms of sciatica? How do I know if I have sciatica?

Since we are talking about inflammation of a nerve, the symptoms will feel like a nerve,- which is zingy, electric, shooting, sharp, tingling, pins and needles, and can be drawn in a line. And the sciatic nerve line is specifically down the back or side of the butt and upper leg, and generally extends down to the foot.

What can I do to help sciatica? Get Sciatica Treatment in Reno

Here in Reno at Radiant Physical Therapy, you and I would work on identifying where the nerve is becoming irritated and on eliminating the source of irritation (i.e. is it a vertebrae out of alignment, is it compression of the spine due to poor posture or prolonged sitting, is it weak core muscles causing excessive pressures on the areas adjacent to the nerve, is it becoming aware of how you sleep, exercise, and function in order to give the nerve a break?, etc.).

Together, we can use hands-on techniques, exercises, taping, education on how to care for yourself, and modalities (like laser or electrical stimulation) to decrease the nerve inflammation, relieve your pain, and restore your function. And yes, it is usually fixable by quality physical therapy alone, without the use of surgery. Ice, reducing inflammation and stress, medications, and injections can decrease inflammation, too. 

Will sciatica go away on its own?

I believe that the body is amazing and greatly intelligent. That being said, you do not want to let nerve pain (anywhere in the body) to linger. Numbness is a worse sign than pain. Weakness is a sign of more advanced involvement. You do not want to compromise the nerve for too long, for there can be more extensive and possibly irreversible damage, so do something about it. Please don’t ignore it. It is your body’s way of communicating there is a problem.

What are other things that can mimic sciatica, that aren’t really sciatica?

  • Pain that travels down the front of the thigh comes from a different nerve, the femoral nerve, which comes out of the upper lumbar spine, then travels through the abdomen and pelvis to exit at the groin and into the front of the thigh.

  • Pain that travels down the inner groin and inner thigh, and perhaps down into the foot can come from the obturator nerve. 

    • Pain that is only in the buttock and in the back of the thigh, and does not travel down the leg could be from the sacral nerves. There is often a tingling sense, and may be associated with tailbone or SI or pelvic issues. You may hear pudendal nerve mentioned.

    And all of those are usually able to be resolved here at Radiant Physical Therapy, too. The first step is identifying the origin and the triggers, and we will happily do that!

    Call today for Sciatica Treatment in Reno! Make an appointment with Anita!
    Reach our Reno / Sparks Physical Therapy Office at: (775) 870-1511