Physical Therapy for Sciatica

Sciatica refers to the back pain that usually starts from the lower back.

Sciatica is back pain which usually starts from the lower back. Physical therapy is an effective approach to treating sciatica. Choosing the right physical therapist for a specific condition is essential. As a result, one could expect a really effective and long-lasting pain relief.

Pain comes in different forms. It may also come in various levels – mild, sharp, severe, etc.

Feeling even a slight amount of pain would really make us feel bad. That is why we would normally exhaust all means just to get rid of the pain.

Some pain doesn’t last long. But some really take some time. We’ve all been through pain actually – emotionally, physically, spiritually.

There are also different kind of ways of getting rid of the pain. There are over-the-counter painkillers, there are home remedies, and there are also prescriptions and recommendations given to us by our doctors.

But what should we do if we experience recurring pain in the back such as sciatica? Which kind of treatment among the above-mentioned tips should you follow?

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is back pain which usually starts from the lower back. This back pain is said to take place if there is a problem in the sciatic nerve – the longest nerve from the lower back down to the back of each leg. If there is pressure on the sciatic nerve such as an injury, the pain could also affect the hips, the buttocks, and the legs.

The ultimate cause of sciatica is due to herniated disk – cushion-like disks that serve as vertebrae of the spine. When we age, our disks get weaker which makes us even more vulnerable to injuries. Some other causes could include spinal stenosis, spinal tumors, piriformis syndrome, sacroilitis, and might even be due to infection.

Symptoms of sciatica include pain from the lower back that spreads to the buttocks down to the legs. If worst comes to worst, one may feel pained too each time he/she sneezes, coughs, or even sits down. Some symptoms may also come with numbness, weakness, and tingling. Symptoms usually take place right away but may also sit with you for a couple of days or weeks.

How do we treat sciatica?

Almost majority of those who experienced sciatica were able to get rid of the pain through home remedies. However, there are also those who had to go through surgeries if their cases are severe.

For some doctors, they would always recommend a better approach – physical therapy for sciatica. Physical therapy is an effective approach to treating sciatica. You just need to make sure you choose the right physical therapist which could provide you with proper training that is needed specifically for your condition.

Over the years, physical therapy has already been helpful to a huge number of patients. From treating injuries, movement impairments, to a back discomfort.

Treating sciatica with physical therapy would involve different kinds of physical treatments. As a result, one could expect a really effective and long lasting pain relief.

Types of Physical Therapy

There are two types of approaches in physical therapy for sciatica; active therapy and passive treatment.

Your physical therapist may give you 3 active therapies that are mainly focused on exercises for sciatica; stretching, strengthening, and aerobics.

3 Active Therapies

  1. Stretching exercises: are usually advised to lessen sciatic pain. These exercises are done primarily to relax the muscles that have quite been resistant to movements. When muscles become tight and inflexible, they cause pain. That is why stretching exercises target the stubborn muscles to alleviate the pain.
  1. Strength trainings: are conducted to make sure injuries won’t happen again. These exercises are primarily done to prevent chances of injuries. Usually, the target of strength training starts from the lumbar region of the back, thigh muscles, as well as gluteal muscles. Strengthening one’s muscles could also help improve the alignment of the back.
  1. Low-impact aerobic exercises: such as walking or swimming are said to be effective in giving relief for pain. They are said to contribute to making the recovery period of a person faster since these cardiovascular exercises promote exchange of fluids and nutrients in the muscles which aids to healing. Aerobic exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and pilates could be done individually or could also be combined for better results. Aside from that, cardiovascular activities have been proven to produce endorphins in the body. Having said, endorphins serve as natural painkillers of the body which could also help in pain management.

But your physical therapist may also go for passive treatment.

4 Passive Treatment Options

  1. Hot and cold therapies might be done alternatively to help manage pain. The heat will be used to increase blood flow. As a result, more oxygen, as well as nutrients, will be brought to the damaged area. On the contrary, cold therapies are done to get rid of inflammation. Icing the area could also get rid of muscle spasms which might contribute to the pain you’re feeling.
  1. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation uses a machine which stimulates the muscles to get rid of muscle spasms. Similar to aerobics’ effects, TENS could also make your body generate some endorphins which are also necessary for pain management.
  1. Ultrasound uses sound waves to also target the stiff muscles that are inflexible. As a result, it could improve circulation by heating up the muscles. It is also through these sound waves that the healing period could be lessened.
  2. Deep massage has been proven to relieve muscle pain. Most especially firm massages, they could help soothe muscle cramps which are also components of back pain. Deep massage is also effective in helping the nerves and the ligaments more relaxed.

Dealing with our everyday work and errands, we need to make sure we are physically healthy to get the job done at the end of the day. As for the back, we gotta make sure that we are not feeling any discomfort since unexplainable pain could bother us big time. That’s why in order to keep oneself healthy and active at the same time, it’s always best to seek help from a doctor.

Now that you know how back pain could also be treated – home remedies, over-the-counter drugs, and even physical therapy, you may now bid goodbye to sciatica.

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