Cold weather can cause Sciatica?

It can, and the reason for this is because it causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the spine to tighten. This, in turn, can put a strain on your spine and pull on the sensitive nerve roots, causing pain. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve extending from the lower back, down the back of each leg, so the symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the rear, or leg that is worse when sitting
  • Hip pain
  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • A shooting pain that makes it difficult to stand

Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Often, the pain extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and on through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes.

I have a client, who I am going to call Simon, who has given permission for me to talk about him for this case study. He’s 55 years old.

Simon came to see me, having seen his doctor, which I would always advise. His doctor had prescribed him Co-codamol, which is used to treat aches and pains, including muscular pain. Please refer to the NHS website for further information:

Simon’s sciatica had actually initially started in one leg, but by the time he came to me, it was chronic and in both legs. To get to the consultation his wife had driven him, and he struggled to get up the front step! He was in so much pain, I actually wondered if I could help, as I needed him to be able to relax, which didn’t look likely.

I explained that I would be massaging his legs, at which point he nearly cried, and said, “ but the pain is in my back.” I explained that the muscles of the thigh and backside are actually originating from the lower back so I would be aiming to alleviate his symptoms by relieving pressure and inflammation.

One of the best parts of my job is putting the ‘pieces of the puzzle’ together as I chat with a client. Although the Consultation form is comprehensive, there’s always a story behind the ailment…

Simon was a teacher for the majority of his career but had to retire early due to stress. He then fancied a change so he became a handy-man. So basically, Simon went from 30 years in a sedentary job to a physical job. Having said that, the guy was in shape! He had really kept himself in good health.

As I massaged his legs I was immediately aware that his hamstrings and his gluts were ridiculously tight. I couldn’t apply a huge amount of pressure as he was in so much pain, but over the course of the treatment, the facia loosened somewhat. To Simon’s surprise, as he left, he tackled the front step, and then practically ‘skipped’ to the car.

He did book an appointment again for the following week and took it easy in-between time. His feedback was that the massage had substantially reduced the sciatic pain almost immediately, so he was able to sleep better, and we all know how important a good night’s sleep is. Simon’s wife’s feedback was that he stopped being a ‘grumpy bastard!’:)

With a few massages, Simon was able to introduce stretching. I told him to think of his job as a full days ‘work-out’ and therefore realize that a stretch immediately after finishing work would be a good thing. He also put some time into improving his core strength, so when he lifts he doesn’t overwork the muscles of his back.  

When we are in pain, we end up just focusing on that pain and not necessarily helping ourselves. If you can take one small step and then get a positive result, however small; your body is given a bit of respite, and so is your brain – so you immediately feel happier.

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