If you wake up with a sharp, shooting pain that starts in your lower leg or buttock and radiates down your leg, chances are that you’re experiencing sciatic pain, known as sciatica. This condition may make aspects of daily life uncomfortable for some time, but there are ways you may be able to improve it. Physical therapy for sciatica has been shown to help manage the pain that comes with it and may be able to speed up recovery time, helping you get back to doing what you love sooner.
This article explores what sciatica is, its causes and symptoms, and how physical therapy may be able to improve the condition and its effects. For personalised advice, contact our team at Physiolates today.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is an uncomfortable and often painful condition that affects up to 40% of people at some point during their life. It is characterised by sharp, shooting, or burning pain that starts in the lower back and radiates down the leg, most often on one leg but may also affect both.
This pain may make even simple activities, such as walking or sitting, difficult or even unbearable. You may find that it’s constant or that it comes and goes, either seemingly randomly or during or after certain activities.
What Are The Causes Of Sciatica?
Sciatica is caused by the compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the human body. This nerve starts in the lower back and runs down each leg.
The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or bulging disc in the lower back that presses on the nerve. This is often caused by inflammation or muscle irritation but may also be due to degeneration or spine conditions such as spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis. Sciatica is also associated with pregnancy, with approximately 1% of pregnant people developing sciatica at some point during their pregnancy.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sciatica?
Sciatica typically causes pain, though the type of pain can vary from person to person. This may feel like:
- Sharp pain
- Electric shock-like pain
- General discomfort
- Feeling of weakness
Pain is generally felt in the:
- Lower back
The pain may worsen when moving from sitting to standing, after sitting, standing, or lying down for a period of time, or when coughing or sneezing. Understanding the underlying cause of sciatica is crucial for developing a treatment plan.
How May Physical Therapy Help With Sciatica?3
One of the main goals of physical therapy is to strengthen the muscles in your back and legs. If physical therapy is suitable for you, your physiotherapist will design an exercise program targeting your sciatica that focuses on your specific needs and abilities. Exercises like walking, stretching, and resistance training can help to improve your range of motion, reduce inflammation, and ease the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Each person’s exercise plan will differ depending on their individual circumstances. When it comes to physio for sciatica, your physiotherapist will thoroughly assess your condition to ensure they prescribe and assist with the right exercises for you.
2. MANUAL THERAPY
Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques that may help to relieve pain and improve mobility. Techniques like massage, myofascial release, and spinal mobilisation may help to ease tension in the muscles, release compressed nerves, and improve circulation.
3. HEAT AND COLD THERAPY
Applying heat or cold to the affected area may help to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Your physiotherapist may recommend using a heating pad, ice pack or alternating between the two.
Your physiotherapist may provide you with tips and techniques to help you manage your symptoms at home. This may include advice on how to maintain proper posture, how to lift heavy objects safely, and how to perform exercises correctly.
What Are The Benefits Of Physical Therapy For Sciatica?
Physio for sciatica offers many benefits, physically and mentally. These include:
1. PAIN RELIEF
Physical therapy for sciatica aims to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve and therefore reduce pain levels.
2. IMPROVED MOBILITY
Sciatic pain may make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Working with a physio for your sciatica may help to improve your range of motion, flexibility, and strength, all of which may help you to move more freely.
3. PERSONALISED TREATMENT
Every person’s body is different, so their treatment plan should be, too. Your physiotherapist will work with you to make a treatment plan based on your unique condition and
4. NON-INVASIVE TREATMENT
Physical therapy for sciatica takes a non-invasive approach, a benefit often enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
5. PREVENTION OF FUTURE EPISODES
By providing education and teaching you exercises and techniques to maintain good posture and strengthen your muscles, physiotherapy may reduce your risk of further injury.
Looking For Physical Therapy For Sciatica In Melbourne’s South East?
If you’re dealing with sciatica, it doesn’t need to keep holding you back from your daily life. Physical therapy is a treatment option for sciatica used by people of all ages to help manage their sciatic pain. By working with a qualified physiotherapist, such as our team at Physiolates, you can develop a customised treatment plan that targets your specific needs and helps you get back to your normal routine. Don’t let sciatica control your life, seek help from our knowledgeable and experienced today!