Nerve Pain Awareness and Sciatica
This month is Nerve Pain Awareness month, and pain is by far the biggest reason that people seek out physical therapy. Sciatica is a common condition that is characterized by pain that runs down the leg, often stemming from a physical injury to the back or spine. Sciatica gets its name from the sciatic nerve that exits from the back of the pelvis and runs down the back of your leg. Sciatica is more of a general term used to describe these symptoms rather than a condition on its own.
Sciatica sometimes stems from a herniated disc, but it can also be caused by other physical conditions. These conditions range from degenerative disc disease to a bone spur, spondylolisthesis, or even the musculoskeletal structure. The musculoskeletal structure pain occurs further down the chain at a muscle in the back of the hip called the piriformis. This is commonly known as Piriformis Syndrome. When someone experiences sciatica pain that starts at the buttock and can shoot down one side of your leg, it is typically Piriformis Syndrome.
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Is Physical Therapy Good For Sciatic Nerve Pain?
Many people with sciatica will complain of a variety of symptoms, from mild to severe. Sciatica is characterized by pain in the buttocks, back of the thigh, and calf as well as numbness or tingling in those areas. Most cases of sciatic pain can actually be treated best through physical therapy.
The primary role of physical therapy for sciatica is to lessen the irritation that is causing pinching of the sciatic nerve. How this is achieved will vary based on whether the root cause is the vertebral disc, nerve, tight muscles, or inflammation. The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain, restore function, and prevent further injury.
How Will Physical Therapy Help Me?
Physical therapy for sciatica will usually involve a combination of the following goals:
– Reduce the irritation – A physical therapist will instruct you on how to progressively move your body with certain exercises and stretches, in order to improve your condition. This is especially true when people are fearful of doing movements that are now painful. Your physical therapist will help strengthen any areas that need stability, and help lengthen any areas that are tight to decrease irritation along the nerve.
– Manual therapy techniques – Physical therapists use skilled manual therapy techniques like spinal or joint manipulation and soft tissue manipulations to help decrease pain, take pressure off the nerve, and improve mobility. This is done by softening up the muscles around the nerve and improving the joint movements that could further be irritating the nerve. This will ultimately give the nerve breathing room and help reduce inflammation that is causing your pain.
– Stretching – Physical therapists can help individuals stretch any tight or tender muscles to improve mobility throughout the lumbar spine, pelvis, and hip muscles. This can help decrease pain and loosen up the body. Your therapist will also give you stretches that you can do at home between sessions.
– Exercise – A physical therapist will give you corrective exercises that are designed to help decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve. For some, that may mean more time specifically focusing on the lumbar spine, whereas for others it may mean more time spent focusing on the glutes and piriformis muscle. Each exercise plan is tailored to your needs and goals.
– Modalities – Physical therapists may utilize physical modalities, such as heat or ice, before or after stretches or exercises. Heat and ice are two very effective modalities that have different purposes in physical therapy for sciatica. Heat is used to increase blood flow to muscles, which encourages muscles to relax. Ice is used for pain modulation and to decrease swelling. Both modalities have been found to be helpful in reducing pain and can be used as such per patient preference.
How long will I need physical therapy for my sciatica pain?
This is a very common question, but isn’t exactly straightforward. This will depend on the root cause of why you’re experiencing sciatica pain and how flared up your symptoms are. For most, it takes about 8 weeks for long-lasting results. That said, you will feel relief in the first few sessions, but it takes approximately 8 weeks to fully correct the problem and prevent it from coming back. The time frame can vary depending on where the symptoms are originating and how severe the pain is. Physical therapy should always be 100% tailored to you. Your physical therapist will talk with you and help come up with a specific plan for you on the very first session.
Tips to Get Rid Of Sciatica For Good
- Complete your plan of care. Though you may start to feel better, those who complete their episode of care not only relieve their pain, but have a lower chance of symptoms returning in the future.
- Do your part. This is especially true for those who have recurrent sciatica. You must do your home exercise program so you can continue to progress at each session.
- Stay Optimistic. Studies show that those who remain optimistic about having a good recovery are the ones that tend to do well. Mind over matter!
Your physical therapist will use skilled manual therapy techniques like spinal or joint manipulation and soft tissue manipulations to help decrease your sciatic nerve pain, take pressure off the nerve, and improve mobility. A physical therapist will also give you corrective exercises that are designed to help decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve. For most, it takes about 8 weeks for long-lasting results. Physical therapy should always be 100% tailored to you, which is what we focus on at Alinea Performance. Don’t suffer when you could thrive, reach out today and we will get you scheduled for mobile physical therapy and recovering ASAP.
About Alinea Performance
Mobile physical therapy allows us to easily provide physical therapy to Tampa, FL, and Baton Rouge, CA and the surrounding area. Physical therapy keeps you living the life you want to live, and helps train you for the life you want to lead. Massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and even some other physical therapy practices only treat the symptoms of a condition. You end up coming back for months without feeling better, but when you pair massage, acupuncture and/or chiropractic care with physical therapy you can use them to enhance your road to recovery.
We offer outpatient physical therapy for sports medicine, lower back pain, sciatica, hip labral tears, arthritis, male pelvic health and men’s pelvic pain. We can also help you find a MVA attorney to help you claim a settlement for a car accident. For the best physical therapy near you, click the button below to call Alinea Performance. Call today to schedule an appointment and eliminate your pain, regardless of how long it’s limited you.
Dr Joseph Rosi II, DPT, Cert DN, CSCS
After graduation, he set out to continue to learn and enhance his hands-on clinical skills, where he spent the next two years completing a Manual Therapy Certification from The University of Saint Augustine in St. Augustine, FL. During this time he also completed his certification in Dry Needling from the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy. He also took coursework and furthered his specialty into male pelvic health. During this time he traveled, learned and worked in many different clinics in multiple states including Ohio, Texas, Indiana, South Carolina, New Mexico, California, and now Florida where Alinea Performance was born.
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