False sciatica – symptoms, causes, and treatment

If you are affected by false sciatica (also called fake sciatica or pseudo-sciatica), you will feel a pain in the lower back that radiates into one or both legs. This is exactly the same as for true sciatica. However, unlike the true version, false sciatica never radiates below the knee. The pain is possibly not as strong either as with true sciatica. People are much more commonly affected by false sciatica than true sciatica.

Read more about lower back pain here.

Two different sciatica conditions

The difference between false and true sciatica is actually to do with what causes them. Sciatica involves some kind of irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve in the lower back, very often in the form of a disc problem or stricture of the spinal canal. This makes the pain intense by nature and it will generally radiate throughout the whole area of the sciatic nerve. This extends from the lower back down to the foot. Apart from causing pain, this can also affect the sense of feeling and strength.

In the case of false sciatica, there is a type of referred pain originating from muscles, joints or external nerve stimulation in the lower back and buttock. The pain is less intense with this condition and so it seldom affects the sense of feeling or strength. Both conditions can radiate into one or both legs.

Symptoms of false sciatica

One common symptom of false sciatica is a strong nagging pain, radiating from the lower back, down across the buttock, which continues right down to the knee. It is also common to have problems lifting the leg when lying down. The pain is not necessarily intense but can be diffuse. The pains caused by the condition can also come and go intermittently. This means that anyone affected by it can go for long periods without any pain and problems.

Causes of false sciatica

The treatment for false sciatica can take various forms, depending on its causes. Therefore, you should always find out the underlying causes of the condition. There are a few such as exerting pressure on the back at an angle, injuries to the feet or knees or wearing the wrong shoes. It is possible those affected have a problem with their feet or their legs are different lengths.

It is important to point out that false sciatica does not occur due to severe irritation of the sciatic nerve. The problems are more likely down to causes such as sitting too long in front of the computer or lifting something the wrong way while gardening. To prevent the pain from coming back, you need to find the causes and remedy the trigger factor.

Massage and yoga as forms of treatment

If you are affected by false sciatica, you should try to move around as normal, but avoid lifting heavy objects. Movement is often the best treatment as it helps the body heal itself. However, in many cases, a visit to a physiotherapist, chiropractor or naprapath can help if you want to treat the condition. Physiotherapists, naprapaths, and chiropractors have a great deal of knowledge about the back. They can suggest forms of treatment such as training exercises, stretching exercises, acupuncture, and massage.

Yoga is a form of exercise that may be recommended to someone affected by false sciatica. If you can cope with the exercises without the pain becoming too intense, you can strengthen your muscles, increase blood flow, and boost mobility in the body. This can help reduce the pain from false sciatica. Yoga provides several exercises that strengthen the back and improve posture.

How to avoid the condition

False sciatica can be caused by adopting the wrong body posture. To avoid being affected by false sciatica or a similar condition, one tip, therefore, is to think about your posture, especially if you work for several hours in front of a computer. Another tip is to invest in a good pair of shoes. These tips may also reduce the risk of being affected by osteoarthritis in your back.

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