Sciatica & Low Back Pain

sciatica & Low back pain

Sciatica & Low Back Pain

Sciatica & Low Back Pain

Are you grappling with the persistent discomfort of sciatica and low back pain? Let us dive deep into the finer detail, so that you feel comfortable with what sciatica actually is. This is a comprehensive guide that dissects the intricacies of sciatica and low back pain, identifies the sciatica symptoms, unravels their causes, outlines precise treatments, and highlights the potential benefits that lie ahead.

What is Sciatica? Understanding the Sciatic Nerve

Sciatica is not just a fleeting pain; it’s a distinctive discomfort that originates from the irritation of the sciatic nerve – a significant nerve that originates from the nerve roots (L4, L5, S1, S2 and S3) of the lower spine, travels through the buttocks, and extends down the leg. Let us show you more detail and break it down even further (as pictured). The nerve roots exit the neural foramen in the vertebral column which is the small hole where the yellow nerve below is exiting at each level. There is a neural foramen (opening) at L4/L5 and another at L5/S1 and another at S1 /S2 and so on. These nerve roots then join together to form the sciatic nerve which runs all the way down the back of the leg to your foot. 


This intricate nerve is responsible for transmitting sensory and motor signals between the lower limbs, spinal cord, and brain. When irritated, it can trigger a range of symptoms, from radiating pain and tingling sensations to muscle weakness.

 Sciatica can result from herniated discs, spinal stenosis, muscle tightness, and even pregnancy-related pressure. Understanding the underlying causes is paramount in addressing and alleviating sciatica.

Cause of Lower Back Pain: Sciatica

Low back pain is a pervasive issue that stems from a multitude of origins. Strained muscles and sprained ligaments can result from sudden movements, improper lifting, or even postural imbalances. Structural issues such as herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or misaligned vertebrae can be the cause of low back pain, creating discomfort that lingers day in and day out.

Even seemingly innocuous activities, like sitting for extended periods or engaging in repetitive movements, can contribute to low back pain over time. Identifying the root causes is the first step toward effective management.

Pinched Nerve & Bulging Disc: Low Back Pain Causes

A pinched nerve, a frequent cause of sciatica, occurs when surrounding structures exert pressure on the nerve. This causes lower back pain, numbness, or weakness. One common source of nerve compression is herniated or bulging discs, where the inner gel-like substance of the disc protrudes, leading to irritation. These conditions can be sparked by traumatic injury, age-related degeneration (degenerative disc disease), or repetitive strain (As you can see below). Other causes can be from piriformis syndrome and spinal stenosis which is a term used to define the central canal that hold the spinal cord narrowing. 

Causes of low back pain

Sciatica Symptoms: Recognising the Signs

Sciatica is renowned for its telltale signs that are hard to ignore. The most obvious sciatica symptom is a sharp, shooting pain that originates in the lower back and travels down the buttocks and leg. This discomfort is often accompanied by numbness, tingling sensations, and even muscle weakness in the affected leg. Depending on the spinal level of the discal pathology, your sciatic nerve will cause symptoms at a specific part of the leg (as pictured to the right). This can be broken down further here. 

  • L1 = Referral to the Pelvis area
  • L2= Referral to the groin 
  • L3 = Referral to the inner thigh and knee
  • L4= Referral down to the foot and inner leg 
  • L5= Referral down to the foot and over the hive of the foot
  • S1 = Referral to back of the foot and the heel. 

Low back pain, on the other hand, may present as a dull ache or an acute twinge localised in the lumbar region. So it will be very clear and obvious which level of the vertebral column is causing your sciatica symptoms. 

DERMATOMES- sciatic pain distribution

Immediate Relief for Sciatica Symptoms: Easing the Discomfort

When sciatic pain strikes, immediate sciatic pain relief becomes a priority. Applying cold or hot packs, performing gentle stretches, gentle soft manual glides, traction, massage and opting for over-the-counter pain relievers can offer transient solace.  These measures, however, provide symptomatic sciatic pain relief without addressing the “root” issue.

For long-term relief, but also immediate relief for sciatica pain, it’s essential to seek professional guidance. At PhysioFlex, we are dedicated to not only easing your immediate discomfort but also unraveling the underlying causes. So now we will take you through some of those options for sciatica treatment, back pain relief and treatment for a bulging disc long.

Targeted Treatment for Long-Term Results

Our multidimensional approach goes beyond mere symptom management. We meticulously craft personalised treatment plans that delve deep into the complexities of your condition. Our seasoned physiotherapists employ an array of techniques, including manual therapy, dry needling, massage, therapeutic and strengthening exercises, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, to tackle the root causes head-on.

Sciatic Treatment & Back Pain Relief: Regaining Your Mobility

We believe in restoring more than just comfort, and aim to return your mobility and vitality. Once we have resolved those initial symptoms and you are able to move a little easier, our main goal becomes increasing range of movement. Our specialised exercises and stretches target sciatic nerve pressure, bolstering muscle strength, and enhancing flexibility. As we address both symptoms and sources, we empower you to not only alleviate pain but also build resilience against future discomfort. We will also use the app PhysiApp so that you can track these exercises on your phone in case you forget the details on exercises we have discussed. 

Bulging Disc Treatments: Restoring Spinal Health

In Physiotherapy, we do not like to use the term “bulging disc” as it can catastrophise the situation and experience for our clients. So rather than bulging disc treatment, which can make you feel like you need to stay completely still and not move, we will refer to this as a herniated disc or discal pathology. This can be effectively managed through targeted physiotherapy interventions and exercise. Our comprehensive approach encompasses spinal decompression exercises, core-strengthening regimens, and postural adjustments. By alleviating disc pressure and fostering healing, we strive to rejuvenate spinal health and curtail the recurrence of discomfort.

Low Back Pain Treatment: A Holistic Approach to Healing

Our commitment to your well-being extends beyond alleviating pain. We delve into the intricacies of your musculoskeletal system, ensuring you have a really good understanding of your condition. We address muscle imbalances like length asymmetries and strength differences from one side to the other. Low back treatment also requires strengthening of the core musculature, and promoting optimal posture. Our customised exercises and expert guidance empower you to embrace an active, pain-free lifestyle.

Embracing a Pain-Free Future: Benefits With PhysioFlex

Choosing PhysioFlex is choosing a path to lasting relief. Experience improved mobility, reduced pain, and heightened strength. Beyond physical benefits, you’ll gain the knowledge and tools required to maintain a robust spine and a vibrant life. Our mission is to provide you with the means to thrive – unburdened by pain.

You’re no longer confined by sciatica and low back pain. The journey to lasting relief begins with a simple step – contacting PhysioFlex on the Gold Coast. Schedule a comprehensive assessment with our adept team. Together, we will orchestrate a personalised treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. The path to renewed well-being and a future free from discomfort awaits you.

Your First Step Towards Wellness

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