What is sciatica?

Sciatica means lots of different things to different people. Even a group of doctors will argue what constitutes 'true sciatica'.

Sciatica is an umbrella term for anybody suffering with low back pain that radiates down the leg. Most people describe sciatica down the back of the leg as opposed to femoralgia down the front of the thigh.

There are 4 types of sciatica: 

1. Denervation (trapped nerve)

Denervation. people experience tingling, numbness or weakness alongside their leg pain. A qualified therapist will do a thorough neurological examination to assess if you have any pressure on your nerves. Pressure on the nerve is most of caused by a disc bulge, but not always. 

2. Neurogenic (nerve irritation)

Similar symptoms to denervation but the nerve is irritated and therefore sensitive to movement rather than being compressed.

3. Referred pain

The nerves are actually fine! People experience a phenomenon called referred pain. Basically your feeling your back pain in your leg. 

4. Central sensitisation

This is a complex phenomenon and can be summarised by saying that pain persists for many co-existing reasons across physical, psychological and social domains.

The good news! All of these types of sciatica improve with time and the right exercise and management programme.