National Back Awareness

 

Slipped Disc, Sciatica and Trapped Nerve Explained

 

Distirbution of the sciatic nerve

Sciatica

The Sciatic nerve is as big as your own index finger. There are a number of ways this nerve can get trapped. A common cause is a slipped disc. This pinches the sciatic nerve as it tries to leave the spine, see below

 

 

 

Image showing how nerve is trappedDepending on which nerve is trapped, they are named accordingly. When the sciatic nerve is trapped it is termed sciatica. Symptoms include the buttock, back of the thigh and calf, the outside of the lower leg and the foot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single nerve cellTrapped Nerves

Depending on which nerve is trapped, they are named accordingly. When the sciatic nerve is trapped it is termed sciatica. Symptoms include the buttock, back of the thigh and calf, the outside of the lower leg and the foot.

Managing a Trapped Nerve

Step 1

  1. Reduce pressure on the nerve. This means avoid sitting and lie down as frequently as possible.
  2. Anti-inflammatory medicines may help. By reducing the inflammation inside the body, it helps to take pressure off the nerve internally. So, by reducing the pressure internally and externally, the damaged tissue gains a window in which to heal.

 

Step 2

  1. Lie/sleep on your back or the non-hurting side. Do not lie on your tummy or on the side which hurts
  2. Apply an ice pack to the painful area.
  3. Alternate lying with walking. In the early stages more lying than walking. ie after walking lie down before the pain comes. If the pain comes straight away seek professional help – it can be a warning sign.
  4. Avoid sitting and standing. No matter how tempting, these often hinder healing, even if you dont feel it does. Else seek professional help.

 

Step 3

  1. Reduce your activity for a few days and then begin to slowly work back up to your usual level.
  2. Avoid twisting your back or any heavy lifting for at least 6 weeks after the pain starts.
  3. Avoid ALL forward bending (or as much as possible), this includes sitting.
  4. In 12 weeks you can resume exercising paying special attention to  movements that will strengthen both your abdomen and the flexibility of the spine.
  5. Physical therapy, such as osteopathy is also an option that is recommended.

Free Exercise PDF (including videos)

Try these two exercises to help free your pain