CALL US TODAY (407) 708-9918

Sciatica! What? Why? How?

Neural tension refers to the degree of tension or strain experienced by a nerve, typically due to mechanical factors such as stretching, compression, or movement. It encompasses the concept of nerve mobility and its ability to glide and move within its surrounding tissues without being excessively stretched or compressed. When neural tension increases beyond a certain threshold, it can lead to symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness along the nerve’s pathway. Managing neural tension often involves techniques aimed at reducing mechanical stress on the nerve, restoring its normal mobility, and alleviating associated symptoms.

Neural tension, particularly concerning the sciatic nerve, illuminates the intricate relationship between movement and nerve health. The sciatic nerve, being the longest and widest nerve in the human body, traverses a complex path from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs, making it inherently vulnerable to tension and compression. Flexion-based movements, originating from various points along the spine, can exert stress on the sciatic nerve due to the interconnectedness of the nervous system causing “Sciatica”. Even seemingly unrelated movements, such as a forward bend of the neck, can propagate tension along the spinal cord, potentially impacting the sciatic nerve’s function, particularly if it’s already sensitized or compromised.

However, it’s essential to recognize that spinal flexion itself isn’t inherently harmful. Our spines are marvelously resilient and designed for multi-directional movement. The ability to flex, extend, rotate, and laterally bend allows for dynamic and functional movement patterns essential for daily activities and overall well-being. Instead, it’s the individual’s unique response to specific movements that holds significance. If a flexion-based movement triggers symptoms related to sciatic nerve irritation, such as pain, numbness, or tingling radiating down the leg, it’s a signal that the nerve might be sensitized or vulnerable.

In such cases, a cautious and gradual approach to reintroducing the movement becomes paramount. The goal is to facilitate adaptation and desensitization, allowing the body to reclaim its natural range of motion without eliciting pain or discomfort. This process involves understanding the body’s thresholds and gradually challenging them in a controlled manner. By progressively exposing the nerve to the movement without triggering a protective response, such as pain or muscle guarding, the body can gradually build tolerance and resilience. This may involve modifying the range of motion, reducing the intensity, or incorporating supportive techniques such as nerve gliding exercises to alleviate tension along the nerve pathway.

Ultimately, the journey toward restoring mobility and function hinges on the principle of individualized care and progression. There are no inherently dangerous movements or exercises; rather, it’s about tailoring movement patterns to suit the body’s current state of readiness and resilience. By working collaboratively with a physical therapist, individuals can navigate through the complexities of neural tension, reclaiming their ability to move freely and without fear, while honoring the body’s innate capacity for resilience and adaptation.

Dr. Daniel Komforti, Physical Therapist
AUTHOR
Dr. Daniel Komforti
PT, DPT, CIDN, SFMA-C
On a mission to help active adults change their narrative and stay active for a lifetime with more confidence.
Scroll to Top