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Common myths about sciatica

Common myths about sciatica

Myths about sciatica

Several myths exist about sciatica due to the endless information that is posted on the internet. The majority of people believe that sciatica is an illness but it is actually a set of symptoms usually caused by a spinal condition. One of the most common symptoms associated with sciatica is the pain or numbness that arises from the lower spine and runs through the buttocks to the back of the legs. This is caused by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

Below are 3 more common myths held about sciatica…

1. With sciatica, you cannot continue with your fitness goals

While it may be difficult to continue with your fitness goals if you have severe sciatica, the most important thing to do is to get professional advice before giving up a certain sport or physical activity. This is because many individuals who suffer from sciatica can continue exercising if they make proper adjustments in their fitness routine.

2. You can only get relief from sciatica if you have surgery

Contrary to this common myth, sciatica can be treated with many other non-surgical options. Most doctors do not advocate for surgery unless there is a loss of function or great weakness that can only be fixed through surgery. There are various types of non-surgical treatments that a doctor may recommend where some include physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, a pain relief cushion, or anti-inflammatory medications such as steroid injections.

3. Only sedentary people can be affected by sciatica

Sciatica does not only affect sedentary people as some believe but can affect even the most active sports professionals. This is because sciatica symptoms are not only caused by a sedentary lifestyle or back problems but can also be as a result of injury while engaging in vigorous exercises. It is for this reason that some sportsmen and women end up experiencing sciatica symptoms after harming their backs during sporting activities.

Individuals who suspect they have sciatica due to severe weakness or numbness in their legs should seek medical advice from a qualified health professional. It is especially important to see a doctor if the symptoms are accompanied by bladder dysfunction.


  1. Emma on December 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

    I’m 39 and I had to have a micro discectomy last year due to having a bulging disc aggravating my sciatic nerve. My quality of life was zero so that is why I opted for surgery. However, when the wound healed, the scar tissue is now compressing the nerve root and I’ve still got sciatica one year after surgery. I’ve had 2 steroid injections into my S1 nerve and also around the L5 nerve root.
    I was doing Pilates to help recover and build on my core however due to wear and tear on my knee I’m now needing keyhole surgery on my knee and recover (3months roughly), before the neurosurgeon goes back in to release my nerve from the scar tissue. You really couldn’t make this up!
    My worry is I can’t put any weight on my right knee after keyhole op so my sciatica is going to get worse, and then I’ll need second operation to release the nerve from the scar tissue. 2019 has been a write off and 2020 seems to look much the same ‍♀️.
    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • SPRC on December 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm

      Dear Emma,
      You certainly have been in the wars. We would say do not assume that while rehabilitating from your knee surgery that your sciatica will get worse. If you are non-weight bearing (NWB) for a period of time for your knee the physiotherapists will teach you how to use crutches to good effect so that you do not put undue pressure on your knee and back. Using the crutches for a period may even take some pressure off your back. Let’s hope so. Trust that 2020 is going to be better.Good luck.

  2. Rach on November 17, 2019 at 5:25 am

    Isn’t it funny, that you only look things up whilst going through an episode.. I get Sciatica pain when I’ve over worked my back, I’m 34 and I feel like 70, but even though it is an awful pain and I haven’t slept properly in days, I’m thankful it’s not something more serious and I know in time it will get better.. If anyone finds a way to sleep standing up give me a shout….

    • SPRC on November 17, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      If we find a way to sleep standing up you’ll be the first to know 🙂

  3. Wendy age 56 on November 6, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Heat for sciatica wheat bag and hit water bottle helps. pain gel and paracetamol. Yoga or Pilates when I feel I can cope …I do it gingerly tho’ physio heath check and exercises. Anything else I can do pls. I’m a massage and pedicure therapist myself …pedicures my main strain. Forward moves from pelvis …activated what I feel now sciatica. Approx 3wks ago….how to avoid it again and how long to recover.please.

    • SPRC on November 6, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Hi Wendy,
      Sorry to hear about your pain. If you are a massage therapist have a read of our blog on massage for sciatica. If you’re able to walk without aggravating your symptoms too much then regular short walks can be helpful particularly if you find bending from the hip aggravates your sciatica. It will go eventually hopefully in a few weeks. That’s the usual course of events. In terms of preventing it coming back strengthening the lower back will be key and pilates, which you already do, can be really powerful for this. Hope that helps. Best Wishes.

  4. Loretta Steyn on October 19, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I moved a bed and got bad back pain which led to Sciatica in July, but runs down the side of the left leg to the ankle.
    The pain in this leg is so very very sore and send me into tears eery morning until such time I take something to dull the pain but that does not last.
    THe Drs. wont operate as I am High Risk. SO what now.

    • SPRC on October 19, 2019 at 8:59 am

      Hi Loretta,
      So sorry to hear about your pain. You may have had the sciatica for 4 to 5 months now and it probably feels like it is not getting better, but take heart from the fact that the pain does eventually begin to subside for the vast majority of people. Hopefully you are under the care of a compassionate physiotherapist who is guiding you on how to cope. Keep trying things to help alleviate the pain. If you read our blogs you may find something of value that helps. The approach and mindset of trying to recover is really helpful. We hope you recover soon. Best wishes.

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