The sciatic nerve is the longest, widest nerve in the human body, and it provides sensation from the lower back through the buttock region and down the back of both legs and feet. When this nerve is injured or compressed, it can cause debilitating pain called sciatica. The most common causes of sciatica are a compressed nerve, herniated or slipped disc, or spinal stenosis. The pain typically manifests as burning, shooting, or a dull ache, and most patients get better without surgery, through home care and treatment from a certified physical therapist.
Physical therapy is widely suggested for mild to moderate sciatica. Although you might prefer sitting on the couch and taking it easy when you’re in pain, it’s important to keep moving. Excessive sitting can aggravate pain rather than alleviate it, while staying in motion can help reduce inflammation. A customized physical therapy exercise program can reduce nerve pressure, which in turn helps relieve pain. An effective sciatica treatment program includes stretching exercises to improve flexibility of the back, abdomen, and legs. To begin your program, your certified physical therapist will identify which areas of your body need to be addressed. Most often, the problematic body parts are the lower back and hips.
Some of the gentle stretches and exercises to help improve sciatica pain include:
- Reclining, sitting or forward pigeon pose
- Knee to opposite shoulder
- Sitting spinal stretch
- Standing hamstring stretch
Will Physical Therapy Cure My Sciatica?
Most patients experience relief from sciatica through a customized physical therapy exercise program, home care, and the use of over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication (painkillers may be useful as part of your treatment, but are only a short-term solution). Sciatica patients who continue to experience pain for more than 3 months should speak to their primary care physician or specialist to discuss more intensive medical intervention, including spinal injections and/or surgery. See your doctor immediately if you experience severe pain, weakness, numbness, or incontinence.
Need effective physical therapy to address sciatica pain? Contact us at ProFysio today at (732) 812-5200 to schedule your appointment.