Sciatica Relief With Physical Therapy
Sciatic nerve pain radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. This nerve branches from the small of your back, through the hips, and down each leg. There are two sciatic nerves, a right side and a left side. Those suffering from sciatic nerve pain typically only feel the pain on one side of their bodies.
This pain usually occurs when something compresses one of the nerve roots that makes up the sciatic nerve. This can be caused by a herniated disc, bone spur on the spine, or narrowing of the spine. This compression causes inflammation, pain, and numbness in the leg affected.
Alternatively, the sciatic nerve itself might be compressed by a contracted muscle; this is common in piriformis syndrome.
This pain can be severe, but most cases of sciatica self-resolve within a few weeks. It’s not often that surgical treatments are necessary. Those who have severe, recurring sciatica that is associated with leg weakness or bowel or bladder incontinence may be candidates for surgery. Also, those that have failed a certain amount of time with non-surgical treatment are also potential surgical candidates.
In most cases, successful intervention and treatment of this pain can involve physical therapy. In fact, exercise and physical therapy are so successful for the treatment of sciatica, surgery is rarely needed.
How Physical Therapy Can Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain
The goal of physical therapy is not only to relieve pain and inflammation but give you the information and skills you need to prevent future sciatica flare-ups. Muscular balance and connective tissue flexibility and strength are needed to protect the spinal structures.
At our clinic, we have three goals in your physical therapy treatment:
- Relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation
- Heal the underlying cause of your pain
- Prevent recurrence of the same or similar issues
Here are some methods we will use to relieve your sciatic nerve pain:
Deep tissue massage.
This method targets specific muscles or muscle groups and the associated fascia in the hips, buttocks, spine, lumbar (low back) regions that may be contributing to the pressure being placed on your sciatic nerve.
You may not realize this, but there are strong interconnections of fascia throughout the body; for example, the left plantar fascia can lead to the lumbosacral fascia of that side and then to the latissimus dorsi fascia of the opposite side. The physical therapist will use direct pressure and friction to stretch and relieve tension in the muscles and fascia to reduce your pain and dysfunction.
During this therapeutic method, the physical therapist will stick small, painless needles in “trigger points” along the low back and leg that may be painful from the nerve compression. Muscles may be abnormally contractile or fibrotic and can themselves compress or irritate nerves as well.
These needles are occasionally attached to electrodes that send small electric pulses deep into the muscle tissue, releasing painful trigger points. Dry needling has been one of the greatest additions to the practice of physical therapy and is extremely successful for the treatment of orthopedic conditions like sciatica.
Hot and cold therapy.
Your physical therapist will apply heat to get more blood flow to the affected area. If muscle spasms are contributing to your sciatica, this will help reduce these spasms and relieve your sciatic pain.
Cold therapy slows blood circulation while helping to reduce inflammation and pain. Your physical therapist will alternate between hot and cold therapies for best results. This technique is utilized daily by professional athletes.
There are other treatment methods that our physical therapy team can use to help you find fast, lasting relief from your sciatic nerve pain. As part of your treatment plan, we will also give you the tools you need to prevent future flare-ups. Exercising regularly, maintaining correct posture, and losing weight may help prevent future occurrences of sciatic nerve pain.
If you’re suffering from sciatica, you don’t need to continue suffering. Click below to make your appointment today: