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The Sciatica Misconception

Hi, everyone. It's Constance with BodyTx Massage, Acupuncture, and Naturopathy. It's been a long time since we've been on here, and so I thought I'd jump on here and just talk about a little bit of a topic that comes up quite often. It's sort of one of those notorious conditions that a lot of people are dealing with. And it is the topic of sciatic pain.

And so I thought I'd just talk a little bit about the difference between two certain conditions that seem to kind of get bunched into the topic of sciatic pain. So I thought I'd clarify that a little bit. Just to kind of explain that there are two sort of different ways of approaching these conditions.

When it comes to sciatic pain, what is sciatic? It's actually a nerve that runs down from the bottom of the spine down into the gluts, down past in the back of the hamstrings, down the calf, and into the foot. And it's really one of the major, major nerves that innervate our legs, our hips, our gluts, and the pelvis, as well. And it's actually quite large. It's sometimes as large as the size of your pinky, a little bit smaller, too. It just depends. Everyone's different.

What's interesting is that it runs from the spine in through the glut muscles, and oftentimes it can get trapped in some specific muscles, one called the piriformis. And that muscle can either be on top of the sciatic nerve. The nerve can go between, like within that muscle, or underneath. And any time that that muscle is tense or restricted, it can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve.

And then usually you feel the pain or some nerve tingling feeling going down the leg into the back of the hamstrings, a little bit into the calves, and definitely at the bottom of the feet. And that's we actually call piriformis syndrome. It's actually not called sciatic nerve or sciatica. It's because the piriformis is causing compression on the sciatic nerve.

Now when it comes to actually sciatica, that is more of a serious medical condition in terms of the spine. So you want to make sure that you get checked out for disc bulging between the spine, the vertebrae, which is causing some pressure on the sciatic nerve that's coming from the spinal cord. So that's an entirely different situation. But oftentimes, what most people don't know is that that's typically only about 10% of the people who complain about sciatic nerve pain down the leg.

Just wanted to give a little bit of explanation on that. Usually with the piriformis syndrome, so that's where the muscle is compressing the sciatic nerve, that is something that can be addressed with manual therapy. So with massage therapy, even acupuncture can go into the specific motor neuron points of the muscle that innervate. We can actually release that and cause less tension on or compression on the sciatic nerve.

It also involves some stretching, as well, so you do want to be involved with getting some glut stretches going on, and sometimes it's also when your glut muscles are not strong, and so maybe you're compensating on one side because of a weaker glute muscle side.

Just thought I'd talk a little bit about that. Oftentimes, people are kind of, "What do I with sciatica?" And so I just wanted to explain a little bit of the difference between two types of conditions that cause that sciatic nerve pain. If you have any questions, always feel free to give us a call. We'd be happy to help. Thanks, guys. 

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