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  • Writer's pictureUltra Sports

Hold your nerve: Take the right steps to prevent and treat sciatica

sciatica nerve

People are already taking full advantage of the UK’s warmer weather to get back into shape and with summer just around the corner, we can expect to see a lot more taking some outdoor exercise to improve their health.

 

Spring has sprung, as they say, and so too have the UK’s residents as they emerge from their winter “hibernation”.

 

For those who may not know, sciatica is the lay term given to an irritation of a nerve.

 

This can be at the root of the nerve as it exits the spine, which is commonly associated with pins and needles or numbness in the toes. Nerve pain can also come from the compressing or stretching a nerve further down the nerve pathway, which can cause similar pain and symptoms but is managed quite differently.

 

According to Chrissy Glossop-von Hirschfeld, Clinical Lead and Senior Physiotherapist at Ultra Sports Clinic, symptoms can manifest as pain down the leg. The extent of this pain differs from person to person.

 

“Sciatic pain can present anywhere from the lower back down to the calf and even the foot," she says.

 

Ironically, being completely inactive is the leading cause of sciatica.

 

Chrissy says a sedentary lifestyle causes increased strain on the neural structures and, if not balanced out by regular exercise, could predispose people to more frequent episodes of lower back pain and/or sciatica.

 

Sciatic nerve damage can be reversed in the majority of cases, but this depends on how long the symptoms have been present, what is causing the sciatica and how the condition is being managed.

 

In terms of treatment, a physiotherapist first needs to diagnose the cause. Once this has been established, a treatment plan that may include manual therapy, positioning/posture advice, exercise and strengthening to improve tolerance to loading can be set in motion.

 

“Basically, you want to strengthen the body, stay active, eat well and get enough sleep if you want to prevent sciatica,” Chrissy says.

 

On the point of diet, she emphasises that it is important in all aspect of health and is crucial in ensuring wellbeing of all tissues, including the nerves.

 

“Historically, there has been a lack of focus placed on the importance of ensuring a well-balanced diet that does not enhance inflammation, low sugar and alcohol being two examples.”

 

“Ensuring an adequate B12 intake is also important for nerve health, particularly if you are vegan, as B12 is not found in any vegan foods.”


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