Do you experience tingling, aching or burning in your buttock, hip or down your leg?

If so, you could be experiencing sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica. Other possible symptoms of sciatic nerve impairment are weakness and numbness along the nerve pathway of the leg and foot.  (sciatica image)
Sciatica is most commonly caused by compression of one or more nerve roots as they exit the lumbar spine.  The sciatic nerve (the thickest nerve in the body – about the thickness of your pinkie) is formed by the joining together of these nerve roots.

Why do spinal nerve roots become compressed? 

Injury, a sedentary lifestyle and muscle compensation patterns create stress through the lumbar spine, which can cause abnormal wear-and-tear in the vertebra and intervertebral discs.  The discs act as shock absorbers between vertebrae and allow for bending, twisting and movement.  At their normal thickness, discs allow for free passage of nerves as they exit the spine.   Abnormal wear-and-tear causes discs to degenerate and often results in compression of a sciatic nerve root.

This condition can become chronic when the fascia and muscles of the low back and core are tight and restricted.  The chronically tight muscles and fascia hold and keep in place the tension pattern causing compression and force through the spine. 

Under this constant tension, the intervertebral discs can begin to bulge or herniate.  The vertebra can also begin to remodel their shape according to the forces and strain placed upon them.  Bone spurs and narrowing of the nerve canals (spinal stenosis) often results. 

Common Diagnoses that Underlie Sciatica Nerve Pain

There are several diagnoses that can be made via x-rays or other scans (here are a few): 

  • Disc Degeneration/Degenerative Disc Disease – wear-and-tear of the intervertebral discs
  • Bulging/Herniated Disc – a disc bulge can appear when the fibrous wall of a disc becomes damaged or is under strain.  This bulging out of the disc wall can rub against and irritate a nerve root exiting the spine.  When the bulge is significant enough, the fluid centre of the disc (annulus) may push out through the disc wall.  This is known as disc herniation.
  • Spondylosis – refers to degenerative changes in the spine, including osteoarthritis of the vertebral facet joints and degeneration of one or more intervertebral discs.  Disc degeneration often leads to arthritic facet joints due to the increased pressure and wear and tear of these joints. 
  • Spinal Stenosis – narrowing of canals through which the nerves and nerve roots pass.  This is often caused by spondylosis.
  • Spondylolisthesis – commonly caused by arthritis of the vertebral facet joints (also known as spondylosis) leading to stress fracture and a slipping forward of the vertebra.  This slippage may compress the nerves in the spinal canal or the nerve roots exiting the spine. 

How Bowen Therapy may be able to help

With each of the diagnosis above, the aim of Bowen Therapy is the same – to take the pressure and strain off of the intervertebral discs, facet joints and nerve roots by releasing chronically tight core muscles and allowing atrophied or ‘switched off’ postural muscles to re-engage.  This allows the spine to lengthen and re-engages the muscular postural support the spine needs. 

This is accomplished through a layering approach in which the superficial fascia and muscles are released first, leading progressively to deeper, core muscles over a series of three to six Bowen sessions.   This layering approach is important to ensure the body can adapt and transition smoothly into a more resilient and efficient fascia and muscle balance.

Your body will be assessed as a whole, noting system-wide compensation patterns and previous injuries and traumas.  Releasing the compensation patterns as a whole will be the primary treatment focus.  In our experience this has been found to provide the best results for long-term recovery.

Along with Bowen, other recommendations may be appropriate, e.g.  exercises and stretches, reducing stress and dietary changes to provide necessary nutrients for recovery.

What is Bowen Therapy?

Bowen Therapy isa gentle soft tissue therapy that initiates the body’s innate healing capacity. Bowen Therapy consists of a series of precise rolling movements over muscles, fascia, tendons, nerves and ligaments. These moves are light and can be done through clothing.  There are frequent and important pauses between each series of moves giving the body time to benefit from each. 

To read a case study of Bowen Therapy for low back pain and to get a better idea of how Bowen works read: Low Back Pain – Case Study.

To book your session

Call 02 9415 4023 or e-mail bowen@wholebeing.com.au to book your Bowen Therapy sessions in Roseville, Sydney.

Online Refrences: The Mayo Clinic, MedlinePlus and Wikipedia

Note/Disclaimer: Bowen Therapy and the information provided above are not to be used as a substitute for seeking medical advice for your condition.  Please consult your medical practitioner if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned.

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Sciatic Nerve Treatment Image