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Does Physical Therapy Work for Sciatica?


Sciatica pain can be brutal and it can sideline you without warning for days or weeks. If you are searching for long-lasting relief from sciatica pain, you may have wondered if you should seek the expertise of a physical therapist. If you’ve already received a sciatica diagnosis for your back and leg pain, a physical therapist can develop a plan that includes treating your pain, managing your symptoms, and preventing future flare-ups. Some doctors may prescribe pain medications that mask the pain symptoms for short periods at a time, which may be necessary from time to time. But when you go to physical therapy for sciatica, you will get long-term relief that starts with the core issue causing your pain. Your physical therapist will take a comprehensive look at your body’s functioning and how your pain is affecting you from head to toe. In order to fully heal and prevent future recurrences of sciatica, a physical therapist will work with you through your entire treatment and recovery process.

What Does Sciatica Feel Like?

Many people describe the first signs of sciatica as pain, tingling, and burning sensations in one leg. You may even notice that certain sitting or sleeping positions may make this pain worse. Sciatica can also cause weakness and numbness through your hip and down into your leg. While many symptoms can occur in the hips, buttocks, and legs, sciatica actually originates in the lower back. You may experience lower back pain and cramping, along with weakened muscles in your buttocks and legs. Sciatica can cause a pins and needles sensation that can be extremely uncomfortable and last for long periods of time.

What Can Cause Sciatica?

If you were recently injured in a car accident, slip and fall injury, or sports injury, then you may have some spinal misalignments. Having shifted or twisted vertebrae in the lower back can affect the nearby sciatic nerve located at the base of your spine. The sciatic nerve actually branches out to send signals through your buttocks, hips, legs, and all the way to your toes. Any pressure or stress to the sciatic nerve can affect the lower half of your body and cause incredible pain and discomfort. Along with spinal misalignments, one of the most common causes of sciatica is a herniated disc. When a spinal disc slips or bulges out of place, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause these symptoms. Other causes of sciatica may include spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column, or misalignments in the hips or pelvis.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Sciatica

In order to properly address sciatica, your doctor must first determine the root cause of your pain. Medication can help to temporarily manage your pain, but the cause of your sciatica must also be addressed for optimal healing and sciatica relief. A thorough and effective treatment plan for sciatica will address the possibilities of disc herniation, spinal stenosis, misalignment, or other causes of your sciatica while also managing your symptoms. Physical therapy can address all of these causes and will get you on the road to feeling better and living pain-free. Here are four ways you can benefit from physical therapy for sciatica.

• Relieve Pain

Part of the rehabilitation process with a physical therapist in Raleigh will involve reducing or eliminating your pain. Physical therapy employs a combination of treatment approaches that aim to reduce the cause of your pain through biomechanics. Your physical therapist may incorporate ice and heat therapy, stretches, and therapeutic massage to help relieve your pain and discomfort. Exercises can also help to promote healthy movements and the release of endorphins that act as natural painkillers inside the body.

• Reduce Inflammation

An important aspect of managing your sciatica pain is reducing inflammation in the area around the sciatic nerve. When swelling and inflammation occur, it can put additional stress and pressure on the nerve as well as any muscles impacted by sciatica. Physical therapy can help address inflammation so you can also begin to improve your mobility and reduce your pain naturally.

• Improve Mobility

Physical therapy is often more recognized for how your doctor helps you to improve your mobility and strength after an injury. In fact, physical therapy can help improve your mobility by strengthening affected or damaged muscles and straightening the spinal column to help relieve pain. Restoring proper posture and spinal functioning can help to reduce the pressure and tightened muscles around the sciatic nerve, allowing you to move more easily with less pain.

• Prevent Recurrence

In addition to treatment and rehabilitation, your physical therapist will also work with you to focus on preventing a recurrence of sciatica. By strengthening the muscles and tendons that support your spine, you develop more flexibility and support for a healthy, functioning spine.

Learn more about how our team at PT Solutions can help you experience lasting pain relief from sciatica. Visit us online or call to request an appointment.

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