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The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists

What Is Sciatica

Have you been struggling with pain and a ‘tight’ sensation down the back of your leg, maybe into your hamstring (back of the thigh) or even the calf? If so have you done what we all do at times and ‘Googled’ it, only to find out that you have Sciatica? You’ve heard about this affliction which crippled your poor aunt for years and fear that you may be saddled with this pain for life, taking pain medication regularly and maybe even requiring surgery. It’s a scary thought. BUT WAIT!! Have you had it properly assessed? Do you ACTUALLY have sciatica? Come to think of it, what IS sciatica?!

Sciatica is a term used by medical professionals to describe the condition when the Sciatic nerve is being compressed which gives the sensation of pain, tingling and numbness into the back of the leg. The leg can also feel weak as the signals from the brain to the muscles do not travel effectively.

So in order to have a Sciatica, either a lumbar intervertebral disc is bulging, the  nerve is being irritated by inflammation of a facet joint, a ‘tight’ muscle is compressing the nerve, or some other pathology is underling which is causing you this pain.

What Is Pseudo Sciatica

HOWEVER, there is another condition which causes pain to be referred down the leg in a similar pattern and does NOT mean you have any structural damage as in most of the above conditions. Trigger points can form in the muscles of the hip and lower back and refer pain down the leg. Trigger points are ‘knots’ in the muscle which become inflamed and highly irritable. They are more often found in weak muscles or muscles that have been ‘overloaded’ and have fatigued.

As you can see in the above image the trigger points in gluteus medius and gluteus minimus can both refer pain down the leg. They may also give a sensation of ‘tightness’ of the muscles of the back of the leg. Sometimes people complain of a sensation which is like tingling and numbness but is not quite as severe. This is thought to be the soft tissue called the ‘fascia’ tightening up and causing this strange sensation.


Here at Galway Bay Physio we treat these active Trigger Points all of the time. We have a variety of treatments which are effective in releasing these points and relieving the symptoms which they cause. Deep Tissue massage, Dry Needling Therapy and Shockwave therapy have been proven to be extremely effective in reducing pain and restoring function to our patients.

CALL US TODAY on 091 569706, email us or complete the form below.

You can also book your appointment online for Athenry, Oranmore, Ballinasloe and Galway City Clinics

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If you are unsure of whether or not you are suitable to attend a chartered physiotherapist, feel free to contact us for a free telephone consultation.

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