Sciatica is a common and quite painful inflammatory condition affecting the sciatic nerve that runs from the base of your smile down both of your legs. Here, our Stittsville physical therapists explain what varieties of treatment we are able to offer to patients who are suffering from pain caused by sciatica in order to both alleviate its symptoms and prevent it from flaring up in the future.
Sciatica is a pain that runs from the lower back to one or both of your legs and is caused by the irritation and resulting inflammation of the sciatic nerve. This often results from pressure placed on your nerve by a bulging or herniated disc, bone spurs, or underlying health issues such as tumors or diabetes.
The Symptoms of Sciatica
The pain caused by sciatica can range from constant to infrequent and from a mild discomfort to debilitating. Generally speaking, sciatica only affects one side of your lower back and one leg, running from the base of your spine down a buttock and the back of a leg. The pain is often characterized by a burning or tingling in one leg, numbness, shooting pain and difficulty moving the affected leg.
While it's rare that permanent nerve damage results from sciatica, that doesn't make it any less painful and uncomfortable for those living with it. Because of this, treatment is incredibly important: both to restore your mobility and to alleviate pain while creating strategies to cause flare-ups to occur less frequently.
Since there are a range of disorders that may be at the root of your sciatica, diagnosis will generally involve the confirmation that the source of your pain is indeed sciatica with exercises like walking on your toes, lifting your legs one at a time and rising up from a squat. If you are suffering from sciatica, these exercises will prove especially painful or difficult.
After identifying that you indeed do have sciatica, a suite of diagnostic tests will be run to determine what is the root cause. This can include X-rays, MRIs and CT scans to examine your spine and nerves.
After your diagnosis, your physician may prescribe a number of different medications or treatments to help alleviate your pain, including muscle relaxants, narcotics or anti-inflammatory medicines. They will also likely refer you to a physical therapist, like our team at Motion Works Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre, to design a rehabilitation program to both alleviate your pain and restore mobility in the long term.
Sciatica Treatment with Physiotherapy
Since some of the most common causes of pain in the sciatic nerve are different varieties of abnormal pressure placed on your nerve, the physiotherapy treatment for sciatic will generally focus on reducing the pressure when accused by spinal joints moving improperly as well as resulting muscle tightness in the legs, buttocks and lower back.
Some of the most common approaches to physiotherapy for sciatica provided at our Nepean physiotherapy center include:
- Mechanical Traction
- Posture correction
- Spinal mobilizations
- Acupuncture and/or Dry Needling
- Manual therapy (joint & tissue mobilizations and release)
- Prescribed exercises and stretches to improve nerve & tissue mobility and stabilization
When you are suffering from sciatica, exercises can help. However, if you don't consult with your physiotherapist about what kinds of stretches and exercises are and aren't helpful when it comes to sciatica, you may only make your pain worse. Always take to one of our physical therapists before undertaking any new stretch or exercise.
Physical Therapy for Severe Cases of Sciatica
When it comes to cases of sciatica that are quite severe, surgical treatment may be required to remove either problematic bone spurs, tumors or portions of the herniated disc that are pressing into the nerve.
Our physiotherapists are able to support you even if you require surgical intervention for your pain! Physical therapy is helpful in preparing patients for surgery and helping to ensure positive outcomes. We are also able to offer rehabilitative treatments to help your body recover from invasive procedures for your sciatica to make sure you can return to your normal level of mobility as soon as possible.