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What Causes Sciatica?

Simply put, sciatica describes a kind of leg pain that is felt along the path of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve route is from the lower back to the buttocks, to the back of the thighs, calf and foot.

Irritation of the nerve root
The sciatic nerve has its roots or origins in the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, and the first, second and  third sacral vertebrae (L4, L5, S1, S2, S3).
Symptoms of sciatic pain occur as a result of an irritated or compressed sciatic nerve and this means that sciatica is actually a symptom of an underlying condition and not necessarily a "condition" on its own.

Common causes of Sciatica or sciatic nerve pain

Herniated inter vertebral disc
A herniated lumbar disc is a common cause of sciatica. A disc hernia or slipped disc occurs when the core(nucleus) of the disc leaks out of the outer fibrous tissue. This leak can then cause an irritation of a nerve root.

Spondylosis is osteoarthritis or degeneration of the vertebral discs. Degeneration of these discs occur mostly as a result of age; these kind of changes in the disc can lead to the irritation of the sciatic nerve root.

Spinal stenosis
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal of the vertebrae. This is an effect of the ageing process of the spine and is common in people above the age of 60.

Piriformis syndrome
The piriformis is a small muscle in the buttock under which the sciatic nerve passes. Pain similar to sciatica may be felt if the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve.

In the last trimester of pregnancy where there is increase in blood flow to the spine, there may be a resulting compression of nerves.

Other causes of sciatica are muscle strain, spinal tumours, inflammation, infection and trauma.

What are the typical sciatica symptoms?

Common symptoms of sciatica are leg pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. A sufferer of sciatica may likely experience pain in one leg/buttock that gets worse while sitting. He/she may also feel a burning or tingling sensation (pins and needles) anywhere between the path of the sciatic nerve from the buttock to the foot, depending on the level of the nerve root irritation.

For example, a compression or irritation of the spinal nerve root at the L4 level ( fourth lumbar vertebrae) will present with pain, tingling and numbness in the thigh area; while a compression of the nerve root at the L5/S1 level ( fifth lumbar and first sacral vertebrae) will produce pain and tingling in the foot.

It is also likely that the leg pain is more discomforting than the back pain felt by a sufferer of sciatica.
Another common symptom of sciatica is pain that worsens with increase of the abdominal pressure, like coughing or sneezing.

How can physiotherapy help?
Since sciatica is really the evidence or a symptom of an underlying condition, therapy will focus on treating this underlying cause and therefore management or treatment methods may vary.

The aim of physiotherapy management would be to relieve pain, promote healing of the affected structures and maintain normal function. Your physiotherapist will also focus on sustaining regular movement of the affected area ad this will help to accelerate healing.

Massage Therapy
Massage increases blood circulation, helps muscle relaxation and promotes healing.

Exercise Therapy
Your physical therapist can recommend back flexion exercises, extension exercises, stretching exercises and /or strengthening exercises depending on your condition or presenting symptoms.


Have You Read These?

Which Countries Pay the Best Physiotherapy Salary?

We always hear about physiotherapy being a "hot" profession and that physiotherapists are saught after all over the world and that gives us the confidence to go for international jobs. Interestingly, though, I have noticed that physiotherapists move around alot, and we're about ro find out if it's for "greener pastures" , inner fulfillment or just sheer restlessness. I know of physiotherpists that move from Australia to Canada, and others from Canada to Australia...the other day a colleague of mine told me about a physiotherapist that had just devided to leave Australia for Singapore, while he stays put in South Africa.
Many physiotherapists want to know which countries pay the best salaries to help get some motivation to move or jump ship, so let's first try to analyse places that have the best paying physiotherapy jobs or simply put, the highest salaries.

A physiotherapist's salary in Ireland ranges from $27000 to $60000 a year andthis wil…

How to Get Licenced to Practice Physiotherapy in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Here's a quick summary on how to get a physiotherapy practising licence in Dubai and Abu Dhabi:

A foreign trained physiotherapist should at least have a B.Sc in physiotherapy, with at least two years work experience.

The physiotherapist must be a graduate from a National and/ or International recognized college/University.

For graduates from the UAE universities, the program and university must be accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR).

Higher diploma certificates from The Higher Colleges of Technology in the UAE will be equivalent to Bachelor degree as per MOHESR standard

A Master degree or PhD (in the area of specialty) will reduce one (1) year from the required experience for licensing provided that the Master’s/ PhD degree is not mandatory to obtain the selected title.

Qualifications acquired through honorary nature, correspondence or distance learning are not counted towards the PQR requirements.

All non-UAE national graduate physiothe…

How to Get a Physiotherapy job in Singapore

Physiotherapy is on the skills shortage list in Singapore and is classified as an Allied Health Profession.

You as a physiotherapist should apply directly to the Ministry of Manpower  or the Human Resources department in the hospital of your choice.
Once your registration is approved you'll need a work permit and you need to have a job to get it. There are two types of work passes the EP and the S pass. You can get more information on the Ministry of Manpower website.

Part of the criteria for a foreign trained physiotherapist to to be able to practise in Singapore is to pass the MOH qualifying exam.

The qualifying exam (QE) is an assessment of the equivalence of the knowledge and skills of the foreign trained physiotherapist and the physiotherapy practise in Singapore.
The exams are conducted four times a year in January, April, July and October and you need to be in Singapore to take the exams. The results of this exam are usually released four weeks after the exam was taken.


Getting Study Materials for the DHA, HAAD Physiotherapist Exam

The licensing exam for practicing physiotherapy in Dubai or Abu Dhabi is computer based and multi choice (mcq).
Getting past questions for this DHA, HAAD exam has become a very expensive venture with many websites offering sample questions at a cost.

The Dubai Health Authority has however made it clear that it doesn't sell or make available such past questions and that any one who encounters such should report to them.
So I won't be putting up any names of websites who claim to sell sample questions or offer subscriptions to those who want to rehearse the exam online.

If you want to know how to prepare for these exams or have an idea of the syllabus then you can do one of these two options:
1. Get in contact with a medical recruiting agency with experience.
2. Use the recommended textbooks to prepare for the exam.

I really don't see why you can't go for option 2.
Give yourself a month to go through the textbooks to refresh your memory... It's an mcq exam and pass …

Want to Migrate to Australia as Physiotherapist? Read this first.

If you are a physiotherapist interested in migrating to Australia, reading this first will be highly beneficial to you.

Yes physiotherapy is on the Australia immigration skilled occupation list, but my observation is that there are still very few going through their skill select process.

The Australian skill select process (where Canada got the inspiration for Express entry) is supposed to be a stress free process. It's simply a DIY (do it yourself) kind of thing; fill in your information, upload your English scores and you skills assessment and submit your application for immigration.

Twice every month there are selection rounds and successful applicants are invited to apply for a skilled migration visa.

But this is not actually the case for physiotherapists because you need a skills assessment.

Here are the requirements for applying for a skills assessment:

·         A qualification that is included in theApproved Programs of Study list

·         A Certificate of Substantial Equ…

Areas of Specialization in Physiotherapy

When it comes to talking about specialty areas in physiotherapy or what physiotherapy areas you'll like to specialize it should be based purely on your strengths and interests.
Most physiotherapists specialize in musculoskeletal or sports physiotherapy either for lack of better ideas or job prospects ( not that these are totally wrong reasons).
I think some things you should consider when deciding to specialize are -

What really are your interests? Would you rather work with the young or the elederly? I personally don't like seeing children in the hospital so paediatrics is definitely not my thing.What skills have you gathered over the years and which of your skills are you likely to harness? Have you seen yourself coming up with successful rehabilitation programs for patients that suffered from musculoskeletal injuries, for example, over and over again? Are there particular cases or conditions that your superiors or colleagues have associated you with because of your achievem…

Working Abroad: Getting a Physiotherapy Job in US

It's okay to look out for something different after being a physiotherapist in your present location for so long. Or maybe you are a fresh graduate seeking adventure and consciously plotting an international pathway for your career...Hmmm or maybe you graduated with a degree in physiotherapy and haven't really done much with it...The question remains the same....

How can I get an international job? Are there really jobs for physiotherapists abroad or is this career just overhyped?
Are you kidding me?
The key to plotting the right graph for your career is information, so I will do my best to point you in the right direction so you can achieve your dream of getting an international job.

Are there actually best countries for physiotherapy jobs?
Well there are quite a number of places abroad where physiotherapists are seriously sought after, but I would start with what I call the big five: United States, Canada, Australia, Dubai and Ireland... Then maybe Singapore and …