What is Pseudo-Sciatica?

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Tess Thompson

Sciatica is often confused as a disease. However, sciatica is actually a symptom of a disease commonly understood as compression of the sciatic nerve. This is mainly caused by a slipped or a herniated disc. Sciatica pain transmits from the lower back via one of the buttocks, along the path of the sciatic nerve at the back of a leg down to the toes. The pain can be excruciating and can aggravate on exertion. In severe cases, the lower back can also get ‘locked’ in a sideways bending position.

However, conditions other than a compressed sciatic nerve can also create symptoms of pain that mimic the typical sciatica pain. Sciatica-like pain may be triggered if the nerve gets trapped along its path. And for some reason, sciatica has become a general term that is used for any pain that is associated with the buttocks and the legs.

Pseudo-sciatica is the compression of the peripheral sections of the sciatic nerve. The tension in the soft tissue of the piriformis, gluteal and other related muscles is usually the cause behind it. Such tension may be caused by unhealthy posture, sports activity and lack of exercise, as well as these activites:

  1. Sitting or standing in a particular position for long periods
  2. Protruding the head for peering at the computer screen
  3. Regularly lifting the baby out of the back car seat
  4. Sitting with wallet in the back pocket
  5. Sitting on chairs with a high seat that puts constant pressure on hamstrings

Gluteal muscles are large skeletal muscles that form the buttocks and help in thigh movement. They run from the pelvis to the hip and are responsible for stabilizing the thigh during walking. Walking too fast or for too long, especially on hard and rough surfaces, can activate hip pain. Holding the foot on the car accelerator may also result in immobilization of the gluteal muscles.

Psoases are two muscles of the abdomen and pelvis that flex the trunk and rotate the thigh. These muscles are continually shortened by sitting for long periods in a reclined position in sloping chairs or sleeping in a fetal position. Tension in these muscles can activate trigger points causing sciatica-like pain.

Such conditions cause, what is known as, pseudo-sciatica.

The standard treatment for pseudo sciatica is similar to sciatic nerve treatmentwith more emphasis on stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory drugs and massages. Sciatica alternative remedies like herbal massages, yogic exercises, chiropractic manipulations and homeopathic treatment can play a pivotal role in treating pseudo-sciatica. All treatment is followed by correcting faults in the gait of the patient and occupational positions.


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