According to experts at Harvard Medical School, approximately 40% of the
population will be affected by Sciatica in their lifetime. As the likelihood
of developing complications due to sciatica increases with age, it is
essential to understand this common condition and how it treat or prevent
its onset. This blog addresses these issues and other frequently asked
questions regarding sciatica.
Q: What Is Sciatica?
A: Sciatica is a medical condition that is characterized by the irritation
of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve in the human body. Because the human
nervous system is pretty much bilaterally symmetrical, two sciatic nerves
run from the lower spine and through both legs where it branches out to
supply feeling and muscle control for a person’s lower extremities
up until the feet. Sciatica is a common cause of lower back and leg pain.
Q: What Causes Sciatica?
A: Sciatica can have several different causes. One of the most common causes of sciatica is from a herniated vertebral
disc. When a person’s vertebrae are compressed, the pressure can
push vertebral disc tissue through the canals for the sciatic nerve root.
This pressure can lead to an inflammatory response that irritates and
interferes with the neural signals of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can
also result from being pressure caused by boney structures such as bone
spurs, or due to the narrowing of the nerve canal. In addition to pain,
these circumstances can lead to tingly sensations, muscle weakness, and
loss of bowel or bladder control in severe cases. Conditions such as degenerative
disc disease or spinal stenosis can lead to sciatica.
Q: What Are the Symptoms of Sciatica?
A: A person suffering from sciatica will experience lower back pain, accompanied
by a sharp pain that shoots from the lower back and down the leg. Back pain may also present with neuropathy – a sensation of burning,
tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases of sciatica,
bowel and bladder function can be impaired, leading to incontinence. In
many cases, sciatica symptoms may be triggered in certain positions, depending
on the exact cause of the nerve irritation. Symptoms may only present
when a person is either laying down, sitting, standing, or through specific
Q: How Can Physical Therapists Treat Sciatica?
A: A physical therapist will first assess patients to identify the cause
of their pain. Assessments can involve placing the patient in certain positions or performing
movement tests to determine what triggers their symptoms. After the initial
assessment, physical therapists may treat a person’s pain using
flexibility exercises, mobilizations, nerve slides, or traction.
In situations where disc herniation is the primary cause of sciatica, patients
can expect symptoms to subside within about 2 weeks of treatment. If a
patient experienced muscle weakness as a result of sciatica, patients
will undergo core and leg strengthening exercises to rehabilitate the
patient’s muscle control and restore optimum mobility and range
In severe situations where spinal stenosis causes sciatica, surgery may
be required to remove obstructions that are impinging the sciatic nerve.
Physical therapists will implement post-operative treatments to help the
patient regain muscle function and manage pain.
Q: Can Someone Prevent Sciatica?
A: Patients can take certain steps to help reduce their chances of developing
sciatica. When a person is regularly subjected to prolonged laying down, sitting,
or standing, remaining in a static position can increase the likelihood
of developing complications due to sciatica. Therefore, people should
frequently change positions or take breaks to stretch and move around.
Because a person’s vertebral disc tissue usually gets poor blood
flow – especially in static positions – walking around is
essential to promote the flow of nutrients throughout disc tissue. Regular
exercises can provide significant relief for sciatic symptoms. However,
if a particular activity eventually leads to worsening pain, you should
take a break from that activity to rest until the pain subsides to a more
Call ProFysio for Skilled Physical Therapist in Monmouth County
If you are experiencing symptoms that coincide with sciatica, you should
make an appointment for an assessment from a knowledgeable physical therapist
in Monmouth County. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we committed to providing
excellent therapeutic treatments and interventions to help our patience
combat and managing their sciatica symptoms. Our physical therapists are
licensed doctors with specialized training in the latest treatment techniques
that optimize the potential for maximum rehabilitation and recovery.
Call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 333-6360 or
contact us online today to
schedule a free assessment and consultation regarding possible sciatica issues.