If you’re dealing with back pain, whether it’s due to sciatica or some other cause, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, back pain is so common that 8 out of 10 people will deal with it during their lifetime. Dealing with back pain can be a challenge because it requires a special approach if you want long-term results. Physical therapy is your most powerful weapon against back pain and sciatica because it gives genuine relief and lasting results. Contact our physical therapist today to get the low back pain and sciatica relief you need.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve — the longest nerve in the human body — is damaged in some way, typically through severe compression or inflammation. Your sciatic nerve starts in your lower back and travels all the way down each of your legs, and when you have sciatica the pain may follow this same route.
The main symptom of sciatica is low back pain, but you may also have other symptoms such as numbness in the leg. Some sciatica sufferers also have an unpleasant tingling sensation centered in their feet.
Causes of Sciatica
The nerve damage that causes sciatica can happen in several different ways. One common cause of sciatica is a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc. Disc herniation happens when one of your discs moves out of its normal place between two of your lumbar vertebrae. As the disc moves, it pressures your sciatic nerve, and this causes sciatica symptoms like low back pain.
While a herniated disc is the most common cause of sciatica, there are other potential causes as well. These can include:
Spinal stenosis: when your spinal cord narrows and compresses the sciatic nerve.
Spondylolisthesis: when one of your lower back vertebrae slips out of place, often putting pressure on another vertebra and trapping the sciatic nerve.
Degenerative disc disease: this is more likely to happen as the body ages. When the discs begin to wear down, they start thinning and can cause disc, vertebrae, and sciatic nerve issues including sciatica.
Osteoarthritis: when you have osteoarthritis, your spinal joints are highly inflamed. This causes so much swelling that it can impact the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica.
How Physical Therapy Helps Sciatica and Low Back Pain
Research has repeatedly proven that physical therapy is highly effective for sciatica and back pain relief. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended physical therapy for non-invasive pain relief.
Physical therapy is the most powerful way to fight sciatica and low back pain for one simple reason: it focuses on actually dealing with — and eliminating — the pain at its source. In contrast, taking medications like pain relievers only give you short-term symptom relief. After a few hours, you’ll need more medication and your symptoms will remain. After physical therapy, your back pain and sciatica symptoms will actually be resolved for the long term.
Your physical therapist will perform a complete assessment to determine the origin of your pain and will then customize a plan for back pain and sciatica relief. Your treatment focuses on relieving the pressure on your sciatic nerve, healing damaged tissue and alleviating inflammation. You’ll also grow stronger, improve your range of motion, and take steps to decrease the odds of re-injury in the future.
Some of the treatments used for sciatica and low back pain include:
Active Release Technique (ART)
Cold laser therapy
Electrical muscle stimulation
Cold (ice) therapy
Prescribed strengthening exercises
The non-invasive physical therapy techniques used by our team are specially chosen for two reasons: for your specific needs and their high effectiveness rates. Your physical therapist will use the best in evidence-based treatments to help you beat sciatica pain, both now and for the long term.