For people who suffer from the pain of sciatica, finding lasting relief can be a difficult and time consuming journey. Sciatica is a symptom that is used to describe the pain that radiates from the back or buttocks to the lower leg. This pain gets its name from the sciatic nerve, which is the largest and longest nerve in the human body.
The Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica
The sciatic nerve runs from the spine, through the pelvis, down the thigh, and around to the back of the knee where from there it branches out to the tibial and peroneal nerves, which carry on to the foot. While irritation of the sciatic nerve can result in pain, over three quarters of people suffering from sciatica have the symptoms as a result of spinal abnormalities that impact the sciatic nerve.
Sciatica is typically described as a sharp, achy pain that radiates from the lower back or buttocks into the thigh, and in some cases on down past the knee. Pain distribution varies depending on the location of the irritation, or abnormality that is causing it. This pain generally tends to occur in only one leg and can be more severe than the back pain that commonly accompanies it.
Physical Therapy Can Relieve The Pain
People who seek medical care for a solution for their sciatica are oftentimes referred to a physical therapist as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Physical therapy will typically include both passive and active therapies, where the physical therapist treats the cause of the sciatica pain and works to alleviate the pain within the body.
Physical therapy can help reduce the pain of sciatica as it reduces inflammation, improves physical function, and can prevent recurrence of symptoms. In addition to the actual treatments, a physical therapist can teach you how to exercise and stretch at home as part of an ongoing maintenance program.
Passive Physical Therapy Techniques
Through a variety of deep tissue massages, use of heat and cold compressors, ultrasound and even electrical nerve stimulation, passive physical therapy techniques are personalized and designed around supporting the individual body’s needs. The goal of this part of the treatment process is to gently relieve painful soft tissue tension by getting the body into a relaxed state, preparing it then for more active therapies.
Active Physical Therapy Treatments
Active therapies are designed to promote flexibility, strength, and long term pain prevention. This treatment plan may involve strengthening exercises such to build the muscles around the spine, aerobic conditioning to increase oxygenated blood flow, and movements that increase range of motion and flexibility in the legs and hips. These exercises will be beneficial in reducing pain and inflammation without adding extra strain and stress on the body.
For those who suffer from sciatica pain, have debilitating nerve pain in the lower back and legs that can greatly impact normal day to day living. Fortunately, through physical therapy, people are finding that there is a pathway back to health. If you suffer from the pain of sciatica, contact Pure Physical Therapy to find out how physical therapy can help you.