Most of us have experienced some form of back pain, and everyone will, at least once in their lifetime.

Keeping active and mobile will allow for such symptoms to resolve naturally, over the course of a few weeks or months.

But what if they don’t?

For example, sciatica is pain, or an altered sensation, starting on your lower back, shooting down through your leg and sometimes even reaching the foot. Some people experience sharp, intense pain, whereas others will feel tingling, numbness or weakness in their leg.

Arising from the lumbar spine, the sciatic nerve can be compressed by a bulging disc, a bony spur, and even a muscle strain that can cause sciatica. Sometimes these sensations can worsen by coughing or sitting.

If you are in this situation, please consult with your General Practitioner or Family Doctor who will assess you and produce a diagnosis; while ruling out other specific conditions like fracture, infection or even cancer.

When the diagnosis of sciatica is confirmed and the severity of your symptoms established, health questions and a physical screening will be sufficient for a clinical indication to start with conservative treatments like pharmaceutics and/or physiotherapy.

When the symptoms are severe or the diagnosis is not confirmed, you’ll be referred to a specialist like a Orthopaedic surgeon or Neurosurgeon, to investigate further through imaging and other exams.

If you get referred to Physiotherapy, the physiotherapist will assess your movement habits, postural habits, functional capacity and will help you get in control of your situation. The aim is to diminish the frequency and intensity of sciatica episodes and allow full return to activity.

According to recent guidelines, most effective treatment methods include education about your problem, therapeutic exercise and assurance to keep being active. Regardless of how you are now, knowing your limits and how to overcome them will help you shape a future with a better health!

By Pedro Santana
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