To first understand sciatica pain we need to be clear about what sciatica means. It refers to the symptoms that result from irritation of the sciatic nerve.
What is sciatica?
Let’s look at some basic anatomy first.
A nerve is an enclosed cable-like bundle of fibres that runs between the brain and a part of the body e.g. the heart, skin and muscles. Together all the nerves make up a communication network designed to relay information back and forth between the brain and the body.
To help better understand how this works, let’s take an example of the nerve that connects your brain and big toe. Some of the fibres will carry information AWAY from the brain TO the toe. Others will carry information AWAY from the toe TO the brain. Now, move your toe – wiggle it up and down. The information to move it was carried from the brain where the instruction originated and along your nerve to the correct muscles that move your toe.
Keeping with the same example, let’s say you now try on a new pair of shoes. You slide your foot in and immediately know they are too small… How? Because your big toe pushes up against the end of the shoe causing pressure against the flesh. The sensory nerves receive this information and send a message to the brain (fortunately this all happens at lightning speed). The brain receives and interprets the information and makes an executive decision that, pretty as the shoes are, they are too small.
Slide and glide
For the body to be able to function properly, there needs to be what we call in the trade, “slide and glide”. This refers to the movement that happens between neighbouring tissues. Rub your palms together – it’s like this, they slide and glide over each other. Now put a small object between your palms and rub them together again. The slide and glide is no longer smooth and free-flowing – there are lumps and bumps as the object gets in the way.
Going back to the sciatic nerve, in simple terms it travels from the low back into the buttock, all the way down the back of the thigh, along the calf and into the foot where distal branches reach out into the toes. In the normal state it can slide and glide past joints in the spine, muscles in the buttocks, behind the knee and all adjacent tissues to accommodate movements such as getting into a car and bending down. Now if the sciatic nerve is obstructed anywhere along its path it will set off the alarm signals that may perceived by the brain as numbness, tingling, pins and needles or pain.
A doctor will likely be able to diagnose your symptoms as sciatica but only a full assessment by a physical therapist, osteopath or other manual therapist will be able to determine the cause. e.g. a bulging vertebral disc, a tight muscle in your butt, scar tissue or something else. Once they have identified the likely cause, they will then want to figure out why the problem has occurred to enable them to address the cause as well as the symptoms. This will be important for full recovery and in order to reduce the likelihood of recurrent episodes.
Can the Buttafly help sciatica?
In our experience, lying with a Buttafly placed low down under the pelvis facilitates an unwinding of the spine – some people get a better sense of what happens if we use the word “unravelling”. Either way, in the huge majority of people who use the Buttafly in this way, a re-alignment of the spine occurs.
So, if the sciatic nerve is irritated because of a misalignment of the spine, then it stands to reason that the Buttafly could help. The realignment that occurs may provide complete relief or it may be that using the Buttafly presents a little window of opportunity for another treatment to be more effective. For this reason, the Buttafly can be used successfully as part of a complete treatment and rehabilitation programme offered by a manual therapist.
Many customers tell us that the Buttafly provides a useful self-help tool in between treatments, helping to keep them pain free and mobile.
There is no guarantee that the Buttafly will work for you any more than another type of treatments or aid. If you are having treatment, we suggest that you discuss using the Buttafly with your practitioner.
Of course all new ideas are met with resistance and some manual therapists will be sceptical about the benefits of the Buttafly. We realise this but with so many of our customers delighted by the results, we encourage therapists to be open-minded… After all, despite the plethora of research and treatments, back pain and sciatica remain the number one cause of lost working days.
Please note that we would not recommend you self-manage the following symptoms: Weakness, numbness, pins and needles, tingling or changes in your bladder or bowel habits. In these situations it is VERY important that you consult with a doctor or other health professional.