Sciatica Pain and its Treatment
Sciatica: What it is
Sciatica is a common type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back all the way through the back of the thigh and down through the leg. Depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected, the pain may also extend to the foot or toes. Usually only one side of the lower body is affected
The spine has to bear the weight of our trunk, and at the bottom of the spinal column is the sciatic nerve. If there are changes in posture, muscle strength, and pelvic alignment through which it passes, the nerve is compressed which leads to the quite common low back and sciatic nerve pains
- Pain - vary widely from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort. Sometimes it may feel like a jolt or electric shock. It may be worse when you cough or sneeze, prolonged sitting and activities like bending forward can aggravate symptoms.
- Tingling or numbness
- Difficulty moving the leg or foot
- Loss of feeling in the affected leg
- Weakness in the affected leg
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk or a bone spur on the spine compresses part of the nerve causing inflammation, pain and numbness in the affected leg.
- Irritation of the roots of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine
- Lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae)
- Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one)
- Piriformis Syndrome(Entrapment of nerve due to tight piriformis muscle)
- More rarely, the nerve can be compressed by a tumor or damaged by a disease such as diabetes.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
- Prolonged sitting
- Diabetes affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increases your risk of nerve damage
Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy Treatment
- Ultrasound– decrease healing time and relieve stiff and inflexible muscles by improving the circulation and gently heating the muscle.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation – In some cases using a very small and controlled amount of electricity can decrease the intensity and muscle spasms .
- Nerve Gliding Activities: Exercises that move and "glide" your nerves. Nerve gliding focuses on allowing the nerves to move more easily as you bend and straighten your joints.
- Mobilisation techniques to increase joint mobility and correct joint mechanics.
- Sensory integration
- Stretching to alleviate sciatic pain (Piriformis and hamstrings)
- Strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons,the abdominal muscles, gluteus and hip muscles. (McKenzie exercises and Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization)
- Posture correction and spinal stabilisation - Focusing on core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment.
- Good body mechanics and ergonomic modifications
- With manual physical therapy, specific exercises, and muscle retraining, you can correct posture and lessen the stress on the lumbar area of your spine minimizing the occurrence of this ailment.
- Exercise is usually better for relieving sciatic pain than bed rest. Patients may rest for a day or two after their sciatic pain flares up, but after that time period, inactivity will usually make the pain worse.
- Without exercise and movement, the back muscles and spinal structures become weak and less able to support the back, that can lead to back injury and strain, which causes additional pain.
- Active exercise is important for the health of the spinal discs. Movement helps exchange nutrients and fluids within the discs to keep them healthy and prevent pressure on the sciatic nerve
- A thorough and individualized treatment plan is created to guide you through the recovery process and maximize your success.