Physical Therapy to Provide Relief from Sciatica

1255004_body_massageSciatica is a problem related with lower back and legs. You might feel pain in your leg as if you are getting a cramp or the pain may shoot from the leg all the way up to the waist, making it very difficult for you to stand or sit. You may also have feelings of numbness, weakness or ‘pins and needles’ all over your legs and also toes.

Sciatica is caused commonly because of a herniated disc, misalignment of the pelvis, tightness in the hip, narrowing of nerve space or any other problem which may cause the sciatic nerve in your lower back to get impinged. Nearly 40% of people are susceptible to suffer from symptoms of sciatica at least once in their lifetime.

Though you may find it difficult to be active, you must avoid complete inactivity as it could cause stiffness of the back and spine. You might find some positions extremely painful while some may be comparatively comfortable. Sitting for long hours and standing suddenly may cause the pain to worsen. Coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects or twisting your back may also worsen the symptoms.

Initially you may need medication to tackle severe pain. Pain relievers available over-the-counter can help ease the pain. You may take muscle relaxants for muscle spasms as well as some antidepressants for chronic pain in the lower back. For severe pain, you may need prescription medication. You can also use ice packs and hot packs. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to rectify the problem that is causing sciatica pain.

Physical therapy for sciatica

You must consult a certified physical therapist to understand how physical therapy can help you get relief from symptoms if you have no improvement even after a couple of weeks have passed since the first episode of sciatic pain. A professional will understand your limitations and needs and will address your health issues accordingly. Together, you can devise a program which will provide you relief as well as protect you against further injuries.

A therapist will not only guide you about specific exercises but also educated you about correct movement so that you don’t exert any pressure on your lower back. He will also teach you how to keep your spine in a neutral position while going about your daily activities. There are numerous cases where wrong movements and intense workouts cause severe back pain and injuries to the spine. With the help of a physical therapist, you can avoid these.

A physical therapist will recommend exercises for you after determining the cause for sciatica and your level of pain. You must do the exercises exactly as directed by the therapist. If any exercise causes the pain to increase, you must discontinue it and consult your therapist immediately.

exerciseWalking, swimming and stationary biking may be good aerobic exercises for people suffering from sciatica. These exercises help make your back and abdomen muscles strong without exerting the back.  Aerobic exercises also make your body release natural pain killers, endorphins which help reduce pain. Jogging should be tried only after your muscles are strong enough to take the impact. Similarly, exercises which exert pressure on the lower back should also be avoided until back muscles are strong enough.

Stretching exercises can help reduce pain and your therapist may also teach you some strengthening exercises to improve muscle function. Strength training exercises make your abdominal muscles strong and improve mobility and strength of lower back. You will also experience better hip flexibility and strength as well as flexibility of other tissues like tendons and muscles of the legs.

Appropriate physical therapy will not only reduce symptoms but also increase flexibility and enhance endurance. It will also make the spine supporting muscles strong. It helps people return to their normal lives and normal activities with a positive attitude. So, physical therapy not only improves your strength and flexibility but also change your mindset towards your pain and disability.