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Understanding Pseudo-Sciatica

By: Nicole Blankenship

Sciatica! Is it or Isnʼt it? Sciatica is often thought of as a disease. However, sciatica is compression of the sciatic nerve. This may be caused by a slipped or a herniated disc in the lower back. If muscles are tighter on one side of the back it can cause sideways tilting, putting pressure on the other side, resulting in compression of the nerve. Sciatica pain transmits from the lower back via one of the buttocks, along the path of the sciatic nerve at the back of the leg and down to the toes. The pain can be excruciating and may be aggravated on exertion.

In severe cases, the lower back can also get ʻlockedʼ in a sideways bending position. However, conditions other than a compressed sciatic nerve can also create symptoms of pain that mimic the typical sciatica pain. Sciatica has become a general term that is used for any pain that is associated with the buttocks and legs. Sciatica-like pain may be triggered if the nerve gets trapped along its path. Pseudo-sciatica is the compression of the peripheral sections of the sciatic nerve. The tension in the soft tissue of the buttocks, such as the piriformis, gluteal and other related muscles is usually the cause behind it. Such tension may be caused by unhealthy posture, sports activity and lack of exercise.

Here are some activities that could be the cause:
1. Sitting or standing in a particular position for long periods
2. Moving the head forward, as you might while staring at the computer screen
3. Regularly lifting something incorrectly
4. Sitting with wallet in the back pocket
5. Sitting on chairs with a high seat that puts constant pressure on hamstrings

The Gluteal muscles are large skeletal muscles that form the buttocks and help in thigh movement. They run from the pelvis to the hip and are responsible for stabilizing the thigh during walking. Walking too fast or for too long, especially on hard and rough surfaces, can activate hip pain. Holding the foot on the gas pedal may also result in immobilization of the gluteal muscles. The Psoas muscles (also known as the hip flexors), are two muscles of the abdomen and pelvis that flex the trunk and rotate the thigh. These muscles are continually shortened by sitting for long periods in a reclined position in sloping chairs or sleeping in a fetal position. Tension in these muscles can activate trigger points causing sciatica-like pain. Many other muscles of the pelvis and back can also fire trigger points down the buttocks and legs. A through evaluation must be performed to find the “cause” and treat it at its point of origin.

The standard treatment for pseudo sciatica is similar to sciatic nerve treatment with more emphasis on:
stretching exercises
using anti-inflammatory medication
massage therapy
Sciatica alternative remedies like: herbal massages, yoga exercises, chiropractic manipulations and homeopathic treatment can play a pivotal role in treating pseudo-sciatica.

All treatment should be followed by correcting faults in the gait of the patient and occupational positions.

We at HOPE Wellness Institute understand and work with Sciatica pain, giving you relief, so you can perform your daily tasks without pain. If you or someone you know is suffering, understand that you donʼt have to. Please call us, so we can work together, so pain no longer runs your life.

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