Sciatica and the Alexander Technique



Sciatic pain is generally the result of pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is usually caused by a disk prolapse (slipped disk). When an intervertebral disk presses on the nerve as it leaves the spine it causes pain (and often numbness) along the route of the nerve (in the buttock, down the thigh and sometimes down into the lower leg). This can result in a feeling of weakness as well.

Since, in most cases, sciatic pain is the result of a disc prolapse, it is the prolapse that we need to understand and treat. Please turn to the article on slipped disks.

Piriformis Syndrome
The sciatic nerve passes through or just above the piriformis muscle on its way to your leg. Spasm in the piriformis muscle can also pinch the sciatic nerve. This is another common cause of sciatic pain. In this case too, the Alexander Technique, helping you to stop tightening piriformis, is probably the best way to deal with the problem. To find out why, see the article on slipped disks.

Muscle Spasm
There is a very simple connection between muscle spasm and pain. A tight muscle is always painful. Unfortunately, our natural reaction to pain is to stiffen the affected part to prevent it moving. So we tighten the already tight muscle even more. This vicious circle: we stiffen because it hurts and the more we stiffen the more it hurts, is what muscle spasm is all about. We need to learn to stop our automatic tightening reaction to pain. This is difficult because it feels like the right thing to do. The problem is actually much wider than the matter of managing pain. For more information, see the article on back pain.

Other Causes of Sciatica
Occasionally the pressure on the sciatic nerve may have other causes such as an abscess, blood clot or tumour. These have nothing to do with your habits of movement and you would be wasting your time consulting an Alexander teacher in such cases!

Sciatica.org is an excellent source of further information about sciatica. Remember to bookmark this site first!

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