Austin Rolfer: Sciatica

Sciatica is a pain in your butt…literally.  The sciatic nerve has its roots from L4 – S3 (L standing for Lumbar vertebra and S standing for Sacral segments) and continues all the way down the back of your leg and into your feet.  If the nerve gets compressed or pinched anywhere along the line, it gets irritated and you feel pain.  I get a lot of clients coming in to my Rolfing practice pointing to their butt and complaining of Sciatica.

Nerves can be tricky little suckers.  They’re really good when telling you that something is wrong, but very frequently can be a bit misleading as to the where something is wrong.  Often the symptoms will show up further down the line of the nerve.  And to make things even more confusing, nerves communicate with one another, so if one nerve is compressed and irritated often one or multiple nerves around it will try to communicate to the brain that something is wrong.  The brain then interprets the info and tells you that those nerves should “hurt” as well and bingo you have multiple areas that seem inflamed.  For a really good explanation on how pain works, you should check this This Blog out.

Compression points (spinal, organ, muscular).  There are a few areas that are common compression points for the sciatic nerve.  One is right at the spine; if you have damage to one of the intervertebral discs, it can protrude into the nerve area and irritate it.  You can have a narrowing of the opening at the vertebra.  The nerve can be completely healthy coming out of the spine and then get compressed by one of the organs that is sitting in front of it (ie. the Sigmoid colon, Rectum, etc).   One other common compression point is when your piriformis (a deep lateral rotator of the femur) is too tight and compresses in on the space where your sciatic nerve comes out of the pelvic bowl and heads down into the back of your leg.

At My Rolfing Practice in Austin , TX I see clients quite often with sciatica type symptoms.  Using a few diagnostic tests, I discern which nerves are involved and if the visceral system is involved or not.  I then free up the affected structures.  We might then need to balance some of the other surrounding structures.  We might also need to take a look at your movement patterns to see if we need to retrain how you are moving.  I also often have to talk to people about how they are using their body that might have gotten them here in the 1st place and see how we might be able to alter some of the habits and/or patterns.

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