Backpain, Sciatica and Sitting

13th October 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Backpain

There is a regular flow of people attending the clinics with backpain, in fact this is  the number one reason for attendance, Backpain can have numerous causes and associated factors, however one of the most severe is “Sciatica”.

When it comes to pain and discomfort sciatica is at the top!

Most people with backpain have heard of it, if you’re not familiar it’s a severe pain following the nerve from your back, along the back of the leg down to your toes

And it’s often made much worse with change of position and movement, particularly when you sit.

When it comes to sitting how much and how bad are you at it?Good -Bad Posture

The diagram show a poor slouched posture next to a more natural upright posture.

You see the body has a natural position and curvature, however because we work at desks, it alters our natural shape.

When it’s cold and damp we spend more time indoors, so many people tell me they feel great on holiday with the heat, it’s no surprise warmth and movement help considerably.

The major issue with sciatica and sitting is the compression on the disc, it’s designed to compress but not for long periods and regularly needs stretching out, after a while the disc will simply fail in its role, the fluid inside can bulge through a damage disc and compress the nerve as it exits the spinal column, its this contact on the nerve which gives you sciatica and severe pain.

There are various cause of sciatica and it is vital to understand which tissues are causing which symptoms, as this will define the route of action to take and the best possible outcome.

Spinal segment positionsSome of the symptoms you can feel are; pins and needles in your foot, numbness, and a cold sensation as well as severe pain – and unfortunately on many occasions relief is hard to get.

Rest and painkillers are often prescribed with lots of advise also available from pub doctors AKA your friends and family, with a little prayer for it to go. Well despite this there are things you can do!

Osteopathy can help by reliving the pressure on the muscles and joints with specific exercise to help the rehabilitation, as this is a painful condition sometimes it means working with it means you will experience it get worse before it gets better with the exercises initially uncomfortable to start, even more reason to work with an osteopath to structure an exercise plan to minimise this. Occasionally osteopathy is not the answer and a orthopaedic assessment is necessary, again this is something you healthcare practitioner will discuss.

When it comes to posture sitting poorly because you don’t feel the pain is very much a false sense of security, it just means you are avoiding any long term improvement and actually adding to the problem.  This means limit how long you sit and try and engage the spine correctly, trust me you’ll avoid a whole load of pain, cost and treatment in the future and for a small percentage of people with sciatic surgery is the only option.

On a note for the internet, it’s great for information but if you don’t understand the injury you can simply make things a lot worse, all too often someone comes to the clinic and the exercises are not working, someone did tell them it would be painful so they carried on! “stop” get it checked out.  A good example is Yoga, a great way to exercise and keep your back supple, something I personally recommend however, for certain causes there are poses which should be totally avoided particularly in the acute phase. In the long term there are stretches that osteopaths, physio’s and chiropractics give which are similar to yoga poses and complement a structured rehabilitation plan.

To sum up “sitting and sciatica”… It’s a painful condition but there are things you can do, the more you understand your body and sciatica, something your health care professional is well placed to do, the quicker you can resolve the severe pain. Is there a short term answer “no” you do need to change your lifestyle and the influencing factors especially for a long term resolution, with sitting it’s important to check the ergonomics i.e. your working environment, a suitable chair and desk that helps your body not encourage slouching, a DSE (display screen assessment) is very valuable though some of the internet box ticking examples I’ve seen are very limiting and more about convenience, meeting minimum requirements legally and with little cost,  than actually helping you understand the way you function at work.

Can you eventually go back to sport for most cases “yes” Can you do a bit of gardening “yes” in fact we recommend activity it simply needs a plan and a structure to work with your body.

Say to say goodbye to backpain and sciatica, ask yourself is your body fit for purpose and able to do the task at hand, the more mobile, flexible and stronger you are the better your abilities, and though poor ergonomics and posture are simply harsh on the body you can deal with it better.

Francis Connor