Physical Therapy For Sciatica
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Sciatica is a result of irritation to the sciatic nerve, which travels deep in the buttock and down the back of the leg. In about 20% of people, the sciatic nerve pierces through the piriformis muscle deep in the buttock instead of under it. This can make the sciatic nerve more susceptible to irritation and pressure from the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle helps guide hip movement, but can become very tight with prolonged sitting. This increased tightness causes pressure and irritation to the sciatic nerve causing pain.
Physical therapy is one of the best treatments for Sciatica and radiating pain into the leg. At Athletic Advantage Physical Therapy, we will perform a thorough evaluation to determine where your problem is starting. Our physical therapists take time to examine the movement of your spine, hips and legs. We assess your range of motion, strength, joint mobility and muscle condition. After we determine the root cause of your problem, we put together a comprehensive plan to quickly relieve your pain, relieve your radiating symptoms, improve your range of motion, improve strength and help you to prevent future episodes.
How do you determine if it is back pain or Sciatica?
Back pain typically develops as the result of an injury or muscle strain, but it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether it is general back pain or sciatica. Sciatica is a general term that indicated pain or dysfunction of the Sciatic nerve but the location of the impairment could be anywhere along its path. This means that there may be dysfunction at the lumbar spine where the nerve roots come off of the spinal cord or at any muscle along the nerve’s path. With any type of nerve pain, patients generally report a feeling of burning, tingling, numbness or aching. People with back pain may also experience sciatica, but those with sciatica may not have any pain of dysfunction in their back.
Radiating pain to the leg doesn’t necessarily mean you have sciatica, but it does tell you that something is wrong. Irritated muscles and tissue often can radiate pain. Spread-out, achy pain is often indicative of this type of problem. Sharp, stabbing pain with numbness or tingling is more nerve irritation or compression occurring in the low back or leg. These types of sensations typically occur to specific parts of the leg.
Whether you’re experiencing general back pain or sciatica pain, our physical therapists are licensed and trained in helping alleviate your discomfort by finding the origin of the dysfunction.
How physical therapy helps
With gentle, specialized hands-on techniques we work to improve your spinal and hip mobility, reducing pressure on your sciatic nerve. In addition, modalities such as heat, ice, electrical stimulation and dry needling and ultrasound may be used to reduce inflammation and resolve your pain quickly. We then perform gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to restore your normal motion and strength. This results in lasting effects that will stop your pain from returning.
Call us today to find out how we can relieve your Sciatica and radiating leg pain, returning you to the activities you love.